Inside the Jemima Code: The Joy of African American Cooking

Time Period
1764 to 1824
1825 to 1860
1861 to 1876
1877 to 1924
1925 to Today
Media Type
Black History
Domestic Life
Women's History
Toni Tipton-Martin

On April 6, 2018, Toni Tipton-Martin presented a Banner Lecture about her book, “Inside the Jemima Code: The Joy of African American Cooking.”

Women of African descent have contributed to America’s food culture for centuries, but their rich and varied involvement is still overshadowed by the demeaning stereotype of an illiterate “Aunt Jemima” who cooked mostly by natural instincts. Toni Tipton-Martin has spent years amassing one of the world’s largest private collections of cookbooks published by African American authors, looking for evidence of their impact on American food, families, and communities. The Jemima Code presents more than 150 black cookbooks that offer firsthand evidence that African Americans cooked creative masterpieces from meager provisions, educated young chefs, operated food businesses, and nourished the African American community through the long struggle for human rights. The Jemima Codetransforms America’s most maligned kitchen servant into an inspirational and powerful model of culinary wisdom and cultural authority.

Toni Tipton-Martin is an award-winning food and nutrition journalist and community activist. She is a James Beard Book Award winner. Toni is the author and coauthor of several books, including A Taste of Heritage: New African-American Cuisine and The Jemima Code: Two Centuries of African American Cookbooks. In 1991, she became the first African American woman to hold the position of food editor at a major daily newspaper, the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Before that post, she was the nutrition writer for the Los Angeles Times and a contributing editor to Heart and Soul Magazine. Toni has been a featured speaker at numerous institutions, including the Library of Congress, Duke University, the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill and Charlotte; and the Austin History Center.

This lecture is cosponsored by The Virginia Antiquarian Book Fair and the Virginia Antiquarian Booksellers Association (VABA).

The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.

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