The SFA was shocked and saddened to hear the news this morning that John Egerton passed away in Nashville at the age of 78.
A web post hardly begins to do justice to the impact that John Egerton had on our organization and the debt of gratitude that we owe him. Over the coming days, we will try to share and celebrate his legacy as best we can. We do so knowing that the Southern Foodways Alliance is only a piece of what Egerton contributed to the worlds of Southern—and American—history, culture, and civil rights. Egerton was an evangelist of Southern food, but more importantly, he knew that our region’s food and foodways could open the door to profound and impactful dialogue about race, class, gender, and much more.
In 1999, Egerton wrote a letter to 50 men and women from around the region and beyond, inviting them to a two-day meeting in Birmingham that would result in the creation of the Southern Foodways Alliance.
You will appreciate, I’m sure, the spirit of inclusiveness that is driving this effort. The time has come for all of us—traditional and nouvelle cooks and diners, up-scale and down-home devotees, meat-eaters and vegetarians, drinkers and abstainers, growers and processors, scholars and foodlorists, gourmands and the health-conscious, women and men, blacks and whites and other identity groups, one and all—to sit down and break bread together around one great Southern table.
(You can read the letter in its entirety here.)
It is in that spirit of inclusiveness, guided by Egerton’s vision, that the SFA endeavors to operate today, as it has for the past fourteen years.
Today, our thoughts are with Ann Bleidt Egerton and the rest of the Egerton family. We offer below a sampling of his contributions to the SFA.