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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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Ronald Leonard

Born in 1964, Ron Leonard grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He moved south after high school and started his serving career at the 15th Street Fisheries in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. There he learned how to work in high volume fine dining, while educating himself about wine and seafood.

From there he moved on to Atlanta, Georgia where he served at The Abbey from 1991 to 1998.  When that restaurant closed, Leonard worked at Lombardi’s from 1998 to 2006 before moving to Birmingham. In total, he waited tables for over 25 years before retiring from the service industry after a cycling accident left him paralyzed. He now lives in Birmingham, Alabama.

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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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