In September, I had the extreme opportunity to present at the 2019 Black Communities Conference with my sister Ashley Drakeford and my cousin Kyle Reeder on The Dinner Table at Canterbury Court: Kinship as a Catalyst for Social Activism & Community. The session focuses on our dinner conversations and our work in organizing around food justice, environmental stewardship. This was my first time attending the conference and it was an incredible experience. There were sessions on EVERYTHING dealing with black spaces and social connections. Dr. William Darity Jr. provided an outstanding keynote making the case for reparations.
The Dinner Table at Canterbury Court focuses on how extended family connections can be used to foster social activism and personal development (read about Familial Capital in Tara Yosso’s Whose Culture has Capital). In the Drakeford/Reeder family, the dinner table served as the place where our parents and elders shared information about our family’s history, connected it with present realities, and gave us a platform for us to speak our own truths.
The Drakeford/Reeder family has been rooted in Prince George’s County, Maryland prior the Civil War and has leveraged kinship as a means for supporting the broader community goals. This includes serving as trustees at the Ridgley Methodist Episcopal Church (National Historic Site), the Highland Park Rosenwald School (one of few Rosenwald Schools operating as a school site), and training faith-based environmentalists. The dinner table was the hub of our black community. It served as an opportunity to build critical thinking skills, practice articulating sound logical arguments, and learn more about the world from others.
The Dinner Table at Canterbury Court is presented in three courses:
- Course One: Our Family History. The historical context of the foundation of the Drakeford/Reeder family and how proximity can help sustained ongoing community engagement.
- Course Two: From Dining to Service. Case studies and examples as to how kinship and experiences at the dinner table are used to leverage ongoing service projects, community organizing and advocacy.
- Course Three: Setting More Tables. Provides participants with strategies and information on how to build community change through family dinners.