Culinary entrepreneurship, whether running barbecue stands, holding neighborhood fish fries, or selling sweets around town, has long enabled African Americans to earn income, stick together as a family, and express creativity. Georgia Gilmore of Montgomery is the quintessential model in Alabama.

In “Cooking up a Living in Alabama,” we visit Thomas and Tommie Taylor of T-N-T BBQ in York and Martha Hawkins of Martha’s Place in Montgomery for a modern look at Black entrepreneurship in the Alabama Black Belt. We get a rural and an urban view of how Black entrepreneurs use innovation and hard work to generate real community impact.

This batch of Gravy is reported and produced by Jackie Clay, Executive Director at the Coleman Center for the Arts in rural Sumter County, Alabama; Matt Whitson; an award-winning production audio mixer and video editor at Alabama Public Television in Birmingham, Alabama; and Emily Blejwas, Executive Director of the Alabama Folklife Association and author of The Story of Alabama in Fourteen Foods (UA Press).

Photo of Martha Hawkins (left) by Valerie Downes. Photo of Thomas Taylor by Jackie Clay.