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  • Writer's pictureHeber Brown, III

A Marathon Week For Food Justice

The first week of Spring 2023 had me moving for food justice between states, events and various modes of transportation.

On March 21, I was in Durham, North Carolina with my friends at Happy Dirt. Ashley from our staff at The Black Church Food Security Network organized this field trip and Black Farm Tour which included some of the members of our Network. Though this experience was scheduled for two days, I could only do one. I landed that Tuesday afternoon, had a great time listening, learning meeting and eating, but by that evening I was on a flight back home to Baltimore. I landed about 11PM and the next day I was on another plane headed to Houston, Texas.

I was invited to present at Prairie View A&M University. It was my first time on "The Hill" and I thoroughly enjoyed this beautiful and historic campus. I was invited by Dr. Melayne Price who heads up their Ruth J. Simmons Center for Race & Justice. Learning about the spirit of student activism was very inspiring. Equally inspiring was the experience of touring their 800 acre farm and ranch. The acreage is not being utilized to its fullest capacity, but the farmers and staff people there are hopeful that one day it will be. It has the potential to be transformative not just for the school, but for the Black community surrounding the University as well. With planning, investment and vision, Prairie View could eliminate food insecurity and further food justice in their local community.

After spending the night in Prairie View, very very early the next morning my Executive Assistant, Albert, and I were off to catch another plane back to North Carolina - this time to Wake Forest University. I was invited by my dear brother, Dr. Derek Hicks to be a panelist at a symposium organized by his Center for Research, Engagement and Collaboration in African American Life (RECAAL). The event was designed to focus on the "various ways food connects with Black communities, highlighting the complexity, languages, struggles and ingenious creativity found in African American culinary traditions." There were so many brilliant people here! (Many of them I am privileged to call friends.). I am so grateful for how they encourage, challenge, and push me as I scale the idea of Black churches organizing to help Black America obtain the ultimate goal of food security and food sovereignty.

By the next morning, I was on the first plane back to Baltimore. I was home in time for breakfast and much needed rest.

Networking, presentations and panel discussions are part of my journey. Sometimes they happen back to back. When they do, I dig in and run the marathon being sure to rest, eat clean, pray and write along the way and afterward.

While it's not always easy, I'd be lying if I said that I didn't enjoy these food justice adventures that bring surprises and deep senses of fulfillment every single day.

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