2014 John Egerton Prize Winners: Toni Tipton-Martin and Chuck Reece

Each year, the SFA awards the John Egerton Prize to artists, writers, scholars and others, whose work addresses issues of race, class, gender, and social and environmental justice, through the lens of food. Two John Egerton Prizes were awarded at the 17th Southern Foodways Symposium, held October 23-26, 2014, at the University of Mississippi. Winners this year were Chuck Reece, on behalf of The Bitter Southerner, and Toni Tipton-Martin.

Reece of Atlanta, Georgia, is a writer, editor and the cofounder of The Bitter Southerner, a digital magazine that publishes original writing on the Southern condition. Their target audience, writes Reece, is “Southern people who do cool things, smart things, things that change the whole world, or just a few minds at a time.” The magazine challenges readers to “face our region’s contradictions” and “throw our dishonorable traditions out the window.”

Toni Tipton-Martin of Austin, Texas, is a journalist, community activist, and author of the forthcoming book The Jemima Code: 150 Timeless African American Cookbooks and their Extraordinary Legacy. The co-author of three previous books, she is also the creator of the SANDE Youth Project, a nonprofit utilizing organic gardening and nutrition education to teach at-risk families and youth about healthy eating and cultural heritage. Her work honors the African American cooks who nourished generations of Americans and asks compelling questions about regional identity and race.

“From the SFA’s inception, John Egerton was the organization’s guiding light,” said SFA director John T Edge. “By way of these awards, we pay tribute to and support the work of Southerners who share his ethic, his critical eye, and his belief in the future of the region.”

Established in 2009, the awards, each of which come with a $5,000 cash stipend, are named for the late John Egerton, known for chronicling and championing the civil rights cause in America, and for his contribution to society’s understanding of the power of the common table. The awards identify Southerners whose work will benefit from greater freedom, support, and exposure. Administered by the Southern Foodways Alliance and funded by an endowment, winners are chosen by a committee that includes: Ann Cashion, chef, Washington D.C.; Ashley Graham, food systems innovator, New Orleans, LA; Edward Lee, chef, Louisville, KY; John Simpkins, law and government, Washington, D.C.; and Judith Winfrey, farmer, Atlanta, GA.

John Egerton passed away in November 2013. The SFA thanks his family for attending the 2014 symposium in his memory.