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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

< Back to Oral History project: Jackson’s Iconic Restaurants


John’s Restaurant

John Rucker was born in segregated Yazoo City, Mississippi, in 1954. His father was killed in a hunting accident when John was a young boy, so much of his time at home was spent hanging around the kitchen and watching his mother cook. While he worked jobs at Hershey and Frito-Lay companies, he spent the weekends cooking for area picnics. When Frito-Lay closed their Jackson location, John bought a building in northwest Jackson and transformed it into a restaurant. While John’s doesn’t serve up what most black Southerners like to call “soul food,” his customers can still get their fried chicken wings – along with farm-raised catfish, pan trout, shrimp, Philly cheesesteaks, and John’s famous hamburgers. An advocate for black entrepreneurship, John believes that the support of black-owned businesses is essential to the growth of Jackson’s predominately black communities and to the city of Jackson as a whole.  And at John’s Restaurant, “you’re always special.”

Date of interview:

Kimber Thomas

Kimber Thomas

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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.


Alex Raij Txikito

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