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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to

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Rodney Beasley

A native of Flint, Michigan, Rodney Beasley always had a passion for cooking. At sixteen, he started teaching himself how to barbecue in the backyard of his parent’s house. Eventually, he built his own smokers and perfected a fruit-infused sauce recipe that he uses to this day.

After working for General Motors for twenty years, Beasley left Michigan and came to the South in hopes of pursuing his dream of owning his own barbecue restaurant, despite taunts from his peers that the regional differences in taste and technique would pose a challenge.

Opening Beasley’s Best Bar-B-Q in downtown Meridian in December of 2009, Beasley has proved the naysayers wrong. While his restaurant is new to the Meridian area, Beasley’s Best has already established a loyal fan base, ranging from mothers who buy his barbecue in bulk to feed their families to nurses who stop by on their lunch break from nearby Riley Hospital. Beasley hopes to share his unique style of barbecue not only with the people of Mississippi, but with the rest of the Southeast, as well.

Date of interview:
2010-06-29 00:00

Meghan Leonard

Meghan Leonard

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The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


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