My dinner at Stagville: ‘We achieved a miracle’

“In 2013, we did a dinner at Stagville Plantation in Durham, 150 people. I did invite Paula Deen, [but] she didn’t show up after my infamous letter to her….

“Almost all the food was prepared 19th Century style, open fires, cast iron skillets, wooden utensils. As we sat down to eat in the shadows of these four remaining slave cabins on this plantation that had 900 enslaved individuals across its history, it just dawned on me that the ancestors who had worked and lived and died there could never have dreamed that we would be honoring them in that way, with this many diverse people. I think we achieved a miracle, knowing it or not.

“That’s my whole mission, to uncover pieces of myself but use that to transform the way people look at race in America, to move the conversation beyond ‘this is mine and this is yours’ to ‘this is ours and this is we and this is us.’ ”

— Culinary historian Michael Twitty, quoted at (Feb. 23)