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Soul Food Bistro Is Teaching Black History With ‘Shoebox Lunches’

Detroit diners can learn about Black trailblazers while dining at Beans & Cornbread.

Beans & Cornbread, a Detroit-based soul food restaurant, will serve up African-American facts for Black History Month, according to Black Enterprise.

The “shoebox lunches” consist of southern fried chicken in decorative cardboard boxes featuring facts about prominent Black figures or history. They are modeled after the boxes African-Americans used to store food while traveling in the segregated South. During the Jim Crow era, many people of color prepared and packed meals because they were refused service at White-only eateries.

Patrick Coleman, the Beans & Cornbread owner, said stories of segregation he heard from his mother and grandmother sparked the idea.

He added the keepsake meal boxes to the lunch menu in November 2018 and they were a hit last February. Now, he will be serving a variety of soul food in the cartons, including catfish and the restaurant’s signature Harlem Burrito.

“It’s a history lesson [that] we call ‘lunch and learn,” he told Black Enterprise.

“It’s important that a younger generation understand the strength and determination that their forebears had to persevere through what we now consider normal day-to-day living,” Coleman added. “Despite the indignities of the era, Black Americans found a way through resourcefulness as well as resolve to ensure that they could travel and sustain themselves.”

The “History in a Box” will be priced at $11 but restaurant-goers can purchase them for $3. A portion of the sales will be donated to Central Detroit Christian Community Development Corporation’s youth education programs.

By Christina Santi

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