Library to Host Fire & Freedom Exhibit

Apr. 25, 2017
Orland Park Public Library will be putting on events and showing an exhibit starting May 8 and running through June 17. The six-banner traveling exhibition “Fire and Freedom: Food and Enslavement in Early America,” uses George Washington’s Mount Vernon home as a specific example of how meals reveal how power is exchanged between and among different peoples, races, genders, and classes.
In the Chesapeake region of the United States, during the early colonial era, European settlers survived by relying upon indentured servants and slave labor for life-saving knowledge of farming and food acquisition. Europeans suffered poor nutrition and widespread illness caused by the lack of medical care.
Despite their perilous position, colonists used human resources, the natural environment, and maritime trade to gain economic prosperity. But, it is through the labor of slaves, like those at George Washington’s Mount Vernon, that we can learn about the ways that meals transcend taste and sustenance. This exhibition was produced by the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health with research assistance provided by the staff at The Washington Library at George Washington’s Mount Vernon.
On May 10 at 7 p.m. the library will host the program, “Black-Eyed Peas: A Symbolic Cuisine.”
"Eat poor that day, eat rich the rest of the year" is an old Southern expression about eating a dish of Hopping John on New Year's Day. Tradition has it that eating black-eyed peas with other cultural fixings at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Day would bring good fortune for the rest of the year. This program is an original tale by professional storyteller Patricia "Serenity" Redd that features historical anecdotes laced with lore in a cultural celebration.
On May 23 at 7 p.m. the library will the host the program “How Corn Changed Itself, and Then Changed Everything Else.”
About 10,000 years ago, a weedy grass growing in Mexico possessed of a strange trait known as a “jumping gene” transformed itself into a larger and more useful grass—the cereal grass that we would come to know as maize and then corn. Nurtured by Native Americans, this grain would transform the Americas even before First Contact. After First Contact, it spanned the globe, but it also drove westward expansion in North America, building cities and inspiring innovators and entrepreneurs. However, vampires, whiskey, Henry Ford, time zones, Fritos, and the Chicago Bears are also part of this remarkable story. And, as Margaret Visser noted in Much Depends on Dinner, “Without corn, North America—and most particularly modern, technological North America—is inconceivable.”
On June 1 at 7 p.m. the library will host the program “Rule of Rum.”
Food historian Cynthia Clampitt shares the reason rum arose where it did and when it did, as well as how pirates got involved and who really said “yo, ho, ho” (not the pirates), but also explains how rum was involved in uniting the 13 Colonies, why it was one of the issues that led to the American Revolution, how it also led to a revolt in its next home after the Caribbean: Australia, and how it affected culture and history around the world after that.
The Orland Park Public Library is located at 14921 Ravinia Avenue in Orland Park, IL 60462. Hours are Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Please visit www.orlandparklibrary.org where more information including events and supplemental reading can be found.