The SFA awards the John Egerton Prize to artists, writers, scholars, and others, whose work addresses issues of race, class, gender, and social and environmental justice, through the lens of food. The award identifies Southerners whose work will benefit from greater support, freedom, and exposure.
The 2016 John Egerton Prize, awarded at the 19th Southern Foodways Symposium, goes to documentary filmmaker Jon-Sesrie Goff, for his documentary film After Sherman. Goff is an M.F.A. candidate at Duke University for Experimental and Documentary Arts. When he entered the program, Goff focused on documenting a 40-acre property in coastal South Carolina that has been passed down through the women of his family since the Civil War.
In the wake of the terrorist attack at Mother Emmanuel Church in Charleston, Goff’s focus shifted. After Sherman now tells a story of resilience in the Gullah community and shares the stories of his ancestors as they have faced down adversity. It highlights efforts to preserve the Gullah culture, despite official and unofficial efforts to silence them. For Goff, the land of his ancestors serves as a site of reckoning, a space with close and complicated ties to current national conversations about race, place, and identity.
Established in 2009, the award, which carries a $5,000 cash stipend, is named for the late journalist and author John Egerton, who chronicled and championed the civil rights cause in America and framed our understanding of the power of the common table.