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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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Leslie Barker & Elijah Townsend

Caritas Village

Leslie Barker, Executive Director of Caritas Village, was born in Boonville, Mississippi, but grew up in Clinton, Mississippi. Elijah Townsend, the Chef and Restaurant Manager at Caritas Village, was born in Memphis, Tennessee. Caritas Village is a restaurant, community center, and cultural arts center in the Binghampton community in Memphis, TN. The mission of Caritas Village is, “To break down walls of hostility between the cultures, to build bridges of love and trust between the rich and those made poor & to provide a positive alternative to the street corners for the neighborhood children.” Barker and Townsend discuss community engagement and activism, the Binghampton community that they call home, and their experiences working at Caritas Village.


Leslie Barker, Directora Ejecutiva de Caritas Village, nació en Boonville, Mississippi, pero creció en Clinton, Mississippi. Elijah Townsend, el Chef y Gerente del Restaurante de Caritas Village, nació en Memphis, Tennessee. Caritas Village es un restaurante, centro comunitario, y centro cultural de las artes en la comunidad de Binghampton en Memphis, TN. La misión de Caritas Village es: “Romper las paredes de la hostilidad entre las culturas, construir puentes de amor y confianza entre los ricos y los empobrecidos y ofrecer una alternativa positiva a las esquinas de las calles para los niños del barrio”. Barker y Townsend discuten el compromiso comunitario y el activismo, la comunidad de Binghampton a la que llaman hogar y sus experiencias trabajando en Caritas Village.

Simone Delerme

Simone Delerme

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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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