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The Radical Origins of Free Breakfast and the Food Justice Movement

Updated: Dec 9, 2020

The food justice movement as we know it today was born of the legacy of organizations like the Black Panther Party, which launched the Free Breakfast Initiative in 1966. On October 29th, Food & Society at the Aspen Institute and Share Our Strength hosted the inaugural session of its Conversations on Food Justice Series with Devita Davison, Executive Director of FoodLab Detroit, and Ericka Huggins, human rights activist, educator, and Black Panther leader, and Dr. Norbert L. W. Wilson, Professor of Food, Economics and Community at Duke Divinity School at Duke University, to explore the origins of the food justice movement, and how it intersects with fostering racial equality. Watch and share!

About the Speakers:

Devita Davison

Executive Director, FoodLab Detroit

Devita Davison is an activist and executive director of FoodLab Detroit, an

organization created to provide guidance and support to independently-owned food

businesses who are exploring business models that create a more equitable and

sustainable environment for employees, producers, and people in the community. A

native of one of the Blackest cities in America, with deep roots in activism and food

sovereignty, Davison has the benefit of a long perspective on food movements and

economies. Davison’s overall goal is to create a food economy that acknowledges

the importance of food justice, community health, and local ownership.


Ericka Huggins

Human rights activist, poet, educator, Black Panther leader and former political


For the past 30 years, Ericka has lectured throughout the United States and

internationally. Huggins extraordinary life experiences have enabled her to speak

personally and eloquently on issues relating to the physical and emotional wellbeing of women, children and youth, whole being education, over incarceration,

and the role of the spiritual practice in sustaining activism and promoting change.


Dr. Norbert L. W. Wilson

Professor of Food, Economics, and Community at Duke Divinity School at Duke University

Norbert Wilson’s research touches on several food issues, including access, choice, and food waste. Wilson explores equity in food access and food safety, and quality issues in international trade and domestic food systems. Prior to joining Duke Divinity, Norbert was a professor of food policy at Tufts University's Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and a professor of agricultural economics at Auburn University. Norbert is an ordained vocational deacon in the Episcopal Church USA


About the Series:

The Conversations on Food Justice series, hosted by Food & Society at the Aspen Institute and Share Our Strength, will examine the roots and evolution of the food movement and how it intersects with race and class, as well as health, educational, and environmental inequities. The live, one-hour discussions will be hosted virtually over the next 12 months, and registration will be free and open to the public. Conversations on Food Justice will include a multitude of diverse voices to discuss the consequences of unequal food access and how the food justice movement can be a catalyst for equity

The views and opinions of the speakers are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of The Aspen Institute.

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