Photo via: Beans & Cornbread
Patrick Coleman, the owner of Detroit’s ‘Beans & Cornbread,’ has added “shoebox lunches” back to his restaurant’s menu just in time for Black History Month.
The lunch item was “inspired by the stories his mother and grandmother told him about taking trips in the segregated south,” reports Black Enterprise. During that time, African Americans, who were often denied service at white-only businesses, would pack lunches in old shoeboxes as they traveled across the Jim Crow South.
“You get on the highway these days and you can stop at any restaurant along the interstate, but back during Jim Crow, [Black] folks couldn’t do that,” Coleman told Black Enterprise. “You could not go into the dining cars if you were on the train or pull over to a Denny’s or a Cracker Barrel and walk in…you could potentially end up getting killed.”
Nearly 20 years after opening ‘Beans & Cornbread’ in 1997, Coleman launched his “shoebox lunches” in Black History Month of 2018 and added them back to the menu during that same November. The lunch includes southern fried chicken and a Black history lesson that Coleman likes to call “lunch and learn.” Coming in a box that pays homage to influential figures in Black history, customers can learn facts about significant things such as the Green Book, or a guide that recommended safe places for Black travelers to eat and stay in the Jim Crow South.
To kick off Black History Month 2019, Coleman’s eleven dollar “History in a Box” will include more options such as southern fried catfish strips and the restaurant’s signature Harlem burrito. A percentage from each lunch box sale will be donated to Central Detroit Christian Community Development Corporation’s youth education programs.
“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 explained. “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.”
Speaking of Black history and the younger generation, make sure you check out our Because of Them We Can Box. It’s a monthly box of Black history and excellence for kids.