The spark of an idea can indeed happen anywhere. Jeziel Jones was on the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge the night marchers were trapped, shot with projectiles, and arrested after a peaceful protest outside of the Frank Crowley Courthouse earlier this month. A couple of hours into being detained on the bridge, he and his neighbors started talking to pass the time. They joked about getting people together for a potluck—much better than their current state, they agreed. “It was kind of a joke. We were riffing,” he says.
But then he spoke with other friends who, off the cuff, brought up a similar idea: We should do a potluck. So a potluck we shall have. It’s from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m, this Saturday June 13, at Reverchon Park.
Jones, a Garland-born 29-year-old web developer based in Dallas, sees the powerful link between food and community. He founded The Potluck Protest to “let the idea of food serve as the nexus point for this movement.” As marches continue throughout Dallas and the country, protest organizers can come together and share their experiences over a meal. “They say that breaking bread breaks down barriers—that’s what helps people realize that we’re not so opposed to each other.” Eating at the table, as Jones plainly put it, “a very human act.”
“That’s really the goal here, we’re really trying to provide a watering hole, so to speak, a place where the various organizations are mobilizing to meet,” says Jones. “If all things goes well, then we’ll have this roster of connections and we can leverage action.”
He’s been working on the event since last Thursday with a small team of others, including Potluck Protest director of vendor relationships Deah Berry Mitchell, who runs Soul Food Tour DFW with D contributor Dalila Thomas. (Thomas isn’t involved in the potluck project.) “This is really near and dear to me,” says Mitchell, someone who has a history of food justice advocacy and raising awareness around Black-owned restaurants “before it was a hot topic.”
Mitchell is leading the food effort. She’s brought in a handful of Black-owned businesses for Saturday potluck. There’s Bam’s Vegan, which you may recognize from the Dallas Farmers Market; Jameon Hardeman of Hardeman’s Barbecue, a dynasty in Dallas’ barbecue realm; Kookie Haven is handling the sweets; and DFW-area, plant-based Cooking4Cost is bringing more vegan offerings. The roster is still growing, and Mitchell is hopeful that the group can secure donated water.
While this is the first event for Potluck Protest, its organizers hope to host plenty more in the future with varied formats and interests in mind. “It won’t necessarily focus on outdoor protests or marches, but all will benefit Black farmers and Black-owned restaurants,” says Mitchell.
And Potluck Protest events aren’t only happening in Dallas. They’re in Austin, L.A., and Chicago, too. “The nature of change is that it takes a while, so the idea is that these Protest Potlucks [are] a quick way for people to get involved and to make it sustainable,” says Jones. “Other cities can pick it up quickly, and more than anything it’s a call to action.”
This isn’t just about getting together to eat. Jones is also working on raising money to provide food and groceries for families affected by systemic racism. He wants to create assistance programs and organize even more events.
You don’t have to be a part of an organization to participate. Everyone’s invited. But watch The Potluck Protest’s Instagram, Facebook, and website for more updates about future events, fundraising efforts, and more.