To Live and Dine in Dixie
The Evolution of Urban Food Culture in the Jim Crow South

Angela Jill Cooley

How cultural notions contributed to the racial segregation of cafés and restaurants in the American South


“I cannot overstate how useful it is that Cooley is trained both as a cultural historian and as a lawyer. The richness of analysis in To Live and Dine in Dixie comes from the interplay of methodologies from both fields. Few other scholars can bring such research tools to the subject.”
—Elizabeth Engelhardt, author of A Mess of Greens: Southern Gender and Southern Food

To Live and Dine in Dixie is an important addition to the canon of southern history and food studies.”
—Marcie Cohen Ferris, author of The Edible South: The Power of Food and the Making of an American Region

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This book explores the changing food culture of the urban American South during the Jim Crow era by examining how race, ethnicity, class, and gender contributed to the development and maintenance of racial segregation in public eating places. Focusing primarily on the 1900s to the 1960s, Angela Jill Cooley identifies the cultural differences between activists who saw public eating places like urban lunch counters as sites of political participation and believed access to such spaces a right of citizenship, and white supremacists who interpreted desegregation as a challenge to property rights and advocated local control over racial issues.

Significant legal changes occurred across this period as the federal government sided at first with the white supremacists but later supported the unprecedented progress of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which—among other things—required desegregation of the nation’s restaurants. Because the culture of white supremacy that contributed to racial segregation in public accommodations began in the white southern home, Cooley also explores domestic eating practices in nascent southern cities and reveals how the most private of activities—cooking and dining— became a cause for public concern from the meeting rooms of local women’s clubs to the halls of the U.S. Congress.

Southern Foodways Alliance Studies in Culture, People, and Place

Page count: 208
Trim size: 6 x 9


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Angela Jill Cooley is an assistant professor of history at Minnesota State University, Mankato. She has a PhD from the University of Alabama and a JD from the George Washington University Law School.