Black History Month: A soul food lesson in a box lunch

Posted at 3:49 AM, Feb 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-05 23:03:14-05

SOUTHFIELD, MI (WXYZ/CNN) – February is Black History Month and one restaurant is celebrating by serving lunch with a lesson.

During segregation, African-Americans couldn’t just eat at any restaurant. They often had to take their lunch to go and it was packed in a shoe box.

"There were oppressive times in the history of this country," Beans & Cornbread owner Patrick Coleman said. "Black people were refused service in public accommodations, rest areas, restaurants." 

For Black History month, Beans & Cornbread is offering soul food in a shoebox. Inside is something delicious. On the outside are stories of historical facts and figures.

“Let's provide some knowledge,” Coleman said. “Let's tell the stories.”

The box costs $1 on top of the price of a meal. A portion of the proceeds will go to a youth program in Detroit.

It’s all meant to be food for thought.

"Walking into a restaurant, being seated, ordering food and when you think about folks 50, 60, 70 years ago, they didn't have that privilege," he said.

Generations of Coleman family stories include tales of traveling with lunch in a shoebox. Because of segregation, it was often hard to find an eatery that would serve African-Americans.

"If you took the train, say from Detroit to Nashville, once you hit the Mason-Dixon Line, you weren't allowed to go into the dining cars," he said.

Even though the box represents an oppressive time, Coleman said it pays tribute to people who lived through it.

"Celebrating the resiliency of not only the human spirit, but the American spirit."

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