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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 annemarie@southernfoodways.org.

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Izola White

Izola's Family Dining


Izola White grew up picking cotton in Kenton, Tennessee. In 1945 she caught a train to Chicago and never looked back. Soon after arriving in the Windy City, Izola got a job at a restaurant and started saving some money. After a few years and with a few hundred dollars in her pocket, she opened Izola’s Family Dining on Chicago’s South Side. She put things on the menu that her mother taught her to make: salmon patties, fried chicken, grilled liver with bacon. Izola doesn’t consider what she serves soul food, just good home cooking. Over the years, Izola’s home cooking has fed the community, as well as some of Chicago’s legendary political figures; their giant portraits cover the walls in the main dining room, which was added in the 1970s. Izola runs a tight ship and demands a certain caliber of clientele in her restaurant. And they, in turn, demand her food.

Date of interview:
2008-03-24 00:00

Amy C. Evans

Amy C. Evans

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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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