Charcoal giant Kingsford launched a new initiative to celebrate the tradition of American enhanced barbecue by Black people.
The “Preserve the Pit” program officially kicked off on Monday (January 25) and is designed to make sure Black pitmasters have a stake in the future of barbecue.
Aspiring Black grill pros will have the opportunity to network and train with the best in the business throughout the year. They’ll also receive a financial investment into their own business, according to a report by CNN.
“2020 made every company step back and take a deeper look at how they could do more to support the contributions of the Black community, which are so integral to the past, present and future of barbecue,” Shaunte Mears-Watkins, Kingsford’s vice president of strategy and marketing said to the outlet. “We also wanted to be thoughtful about our approach to ensure that we found a credible role for our support.”
Candidates for the initiative will be selected on the basis of their connections and contributions to the industry and legacy of Black barbecue traditions.
“Barbecue was perfected at the hands of enslaved Africans for over 350 years in the American South,” said Howard Conyers, a barbecue historian and NASA rocket scientist. “These individuals weren’t able to read and write to tell their own stories. We want to see this barbecue tradition uplifted, celebrated and become more of a central piece in the African American community.”
The coronavirus pandemic’s economic fallout has disproportionately impacted hundreds of Black-owned restaurants and small businesses who reportedly didn’t get nearly as much funding from the Paycheck Protection Program as others.
President Joe Biden’s “Made In America” legislation is seeking to prioritize businesses owned by Black people and other people of color to provide targeted financial relief.
Grillmasters interested in taking part in Kingsford’s “Preserve the Pit” program can submit their applications through March 1. The first class in the program will be announced sometime in April.
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