#Foodie Friday: Peaches Restaurant- A Restaurant with Real Soul

By: Sydnee C. Winston, Project Coordinator

Today’s #FoodieFriday post explores how food can be used as an act of civil protest. The Civil Rights Movement is full of well-known women leaders who used the power of their voices to fight for justice and freedom for all people. We all recognize Rosa Parks, Dr. Dorothy Height, Dr. Maya Angelou, Fannie Lou Hamer and countless other courageous, trailblazing African American women who dedicated their lives to transforming society into a place that acknowledges the inherent dignity and worth of all people.

While these women worked in more visible areas of the movement, many women worked behind the scenes—shaping and influencing the cause in more subtle but nonetheless, powerful ways.  Wilora “Peaches” Ephram was one of those women.

Freedom Riders

In 1961, Ephram opened Peaches Restaurant on Farish Street in Jackson, Mississippi. During the 1960s, her delicious soul food fed some of the most renowned leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Beginning in 1961, the freedom riders began their brave and perilous journeys into the south. “Peaches” literally risked her life by boxing up packages of freshly fried chicken, rolls, collard greens and mac & cheese, and delivering it to the riders, who had been arrested and detained in a large field. The riders had been detained for hours in the field, hungry and dehydrated, as the sun’s oppressive heat beat down on them.  She recalled that she had very little money at the time, barely able to scrounge a few dollars, but she understood that she had a duty to help however she could.

Today, Peaches Restaurant is an historic site and a soul-food Mecca frequented by many famous leaders, including President Obama. Check out this video interview with Wilora “Peaches” Ephram reflecting on her business:

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