August Newsletter

The inaugural Shreveport Reconciliation dinner is just around the corner and final plans are quickly taking shape. Certainly our biggest news this month is the selection and announcement of the evening’s honorees.

The Reconciliation Dinner of Shreveport has selected 44 individuals to attend, at no charge to them, the first Reconciliation Dinner of Shreveport, to be heldAugust 27 at the Petroleum Club. The Dinner is an invitation-only gathering of 80–100 residents, (each honoree may bring a spouse or someone significant to them). Each individual selected represents someone whose life has been interwoven into the cultural and racial fabric of our city’s growth and history and who represents the spirit of reconciliation.

Wait — remind me. What exactly is the Reconciliation Dinner?

The first Reconciliation Dinner was held immediately after the Civil War by Chef Nat Fuller, an enslaved person who became free and established a famous restaurant in Charleston, S.C. Chef Fuller invited blacks and whites to sit down over a dinner, in the spirit of reconciliation, and start a dialogue to move Charleston forward after the war. In 2014 the City of Charleston recreated the unique culinary experience to address modern-day reconciliation issues. And the participants and citizens of Charleston have seen dividends from this open dialogue.

The Shreveport Reconciliation Dinner aims to reprise the original Nat Fuller dinner, adding the local foods of north Louisiana and current issues surrounding racial justice and equity. Those gathered at the table will be diverse in many ways, but linked by a common passion and record of achievement in addressing inequity in our city. Over a two month period the community was asked to suggest names of individuals to represent the spirit embodied by this dinner.

Who is hosting and sponsoring this event?

Slow Food North Louisiana is sponsoring the Shreveport event, along withCHRISTUS Health Shreveport-Bossier, the Committee of 100, The Community Foundation of North Louisiana, Belden & Pamela Daniels, Grigg’s Enterprise, Inc. • McDonald’s, G. Carlton Golden & Rachel Golden, NAACP-LA — Shreveport Branch, Whole Foods Market, and a shared sponsorship between The Times and Praise Temple Full Gospel Baptist Cathedral, plus in-kind sponsors Great Raft Brewing, Mahaffey Farms,Marilynn’s Place, Newt Lynn, Petroleum Club of Shreveport, Rhino Coffee, and Thrifty Liquor.

Chef Hardette Harris, owner of Pure Louisiana Soul food tours and tastings, created the menu. The menu reflects north Louisiana cuisine and local foods and incorporates many of the elements Chef Harris created for the Official Meal of North Louisiana, only the second such state-recognized meal in the United States. Chef Harris will work in concert with Chef Eddie Mars at the Petroleum Club to cook and serve the Reconciliation Dinner.

How were the honorees selected?

A selection committee was formed that represented racial, gender, socio-economic and generational diversity, who themselves had contributed to civil rights and social justice from churches, civic and community life and the business community. The search committee was very carefully chosen in order to be inclusive and to identify people who had made an impact and could carry forward the spirit of reconciliation that allows a city to grow and prosper.

More than 180 individuals were nominated, and selections were made based on the nominee’s achievements demonstrating ongoing effort toward achieving social (racial) justice and reconciliation. The nominee’s actions must have been results-oriented and have promoted solutions to injustice and inequality. Nominees were not selected solely on the basis of their title or elected office. And, those chosen will be challenged to continue educating and fostering the spirit that the selection committee believes they represent.

So, who are the invitees?

  • Jerome Adkins
  • Deborah Allen
  • Arthur Anderson
  • John Beaird
  • Harry Blake
  • Willie Bradford
  • Willie Burton
  • Lynn Cawthorne
  • Rosie Chaffold
  • Adrienne Critcher
  • Jerry Davenport
  • Cathie Dodson
  • Mary Dumars
  • Renée Ellis
  • Lamar Goree
  • Bart Gould
  • Debbie Hollis
  • John Hussey
  • Chris Jay
  • Leslie Jones
  • Gregory Kallenberg
  • Pastor Calvin Kimble
  • Robert Lewis
  • Laurie Lyons
  • Mack McCarter
  • Pastor C.E. McLain
  • Alvin Moore
  • Barbara Pendleton
  • Grace Peterson
  • Steve Prator
  • Henry Price
  • Shirley Roberson
  • Maxine Sarpy
  • Annette Simmons
  • C.O. Simpkins
  • Carl Stewart
  • Gregory Tarver
  • Robert Trudeau
  • Arthur Thompson
  • Ollie Tyler
  • Clay Walker
  • Henry Walker
  • Mamie Love Wallace
  • Matt & Vicky Whitehead
    (representing Common Ground)

Who else will be there?

In addition to the 44 selected, individuals under the age of 40 who may not yet have had time to build a significant body of work in the social justice arena were invited to submit essays listing their achievements and sharing their version of what a stronger spirit of reconciliation could create for our city.

In this “Rising Voices” category, seven individuals were selected to join the group:

  • Katie Bickham
  • LeVette Fuller
  • Emilie Harmeyer
  • Kate Pedrotty
  • Meghan Shapiro
  • Crystalyn Whitaker
  • Bryce Williams