“Tell Us A Food Story” was a highlight of our podcast seasons. We heard many moving and also very entertaining stories about what food means to people. One of those people interviewed was one of my dearest friends from high school who (at the time) has gone in his career to achieve great things. And, as if things couldn’t get greater, I discover through the Facebook grapevine that he is a finalist for a PULITZER PRIZE! Well, we couldn’t let that go so we wanted to reprise this very memorable interview with Roy S. Johnson who can now add Pulitzer Prize finalist to his credits. Please enjoy A Story Teller’s Food Story from Season 4.
Food is friendship.
Interestingly enough, our next interviewee has been the only person to share this sentiment with us. It is a sentiment that we echo wholeheartedly and in fact, could go so far as to call it our “mantra”. In food we find a common place and Lord knows, we need a common place right now.
Roy Johnson is a storyteller who fashions words into vivid, “as if you were there” experiences. Experiences that neither you nor I will likely ever be a part of. An accomplished journalist whose credits include Sports Illustrated, the New York Times, Men’s Fitness and any number of TV appearances, most recently as part of the docu-series, The Last Dance that chronicled the rise of Michael Jordan, Roy has defied tradition.
After 30+ years in New York, Roy now lives and writes in Birmingham, Alabama. Our interview, as a consequence, was done via computer with us in the kitchen studio and Roy in his home kitchen (one of his favorite spots). He loves to cook and views it as another creative outlet for himself and likes to see that in others. When in a restaurant, he is comfortable asking the chef to simply create something for him. He has also ended up with things on his plate that he wasn’t quite sure that he ordered.
Roy Johnson has been my friend for 50 years. Yes, I said it, 50, count ‘em years. Until I did the math, it certainly didn’t seem like it could possibly be that long but there it is.
Roy and I went to school together. It was the end of the 60’s when we met and he was and still is one of the bravest people I know. An African-American in Tulsa, Oklahoma, he chose to attend a basically all-white school albeit a fairly progressive one (but not as progressive as I thought). At that time, Holland Hall was known as the “pink” school in the hills as in “pink-o” and if you’re too young to know that reference…its meaning today is: a person who holds advanced liberal or moderately radical political or economic views; back in the 60’s and early 70’s, it simply meant, communistic. I think if my mother had known that (maybe she did but I doubt it), she would have yanked me out of there so fast it would make your head explode. I include this as a way of saying, yes, at school, we tried our best to be progressive with open hearts, minds and opportunities but we were still immersed in the white privilege that exists today.
So I’m quite certain only those very close to Roy understood the challenges he faced at that time. I know I didn’t understand and he was my friend. But he never allowed the long hours and the hidden and not so hidden prejudice and racism to get in his way or hold him back. As soon as he graduated, he headed to Stanford University and never looked back.
Roy took the road less traveled by, and yes, that has made all the difference. *The interview begins at 09:19.*
Follow Roy on Facebook by clicking right here and who knows, maybe he’ll make your head explode!?
And, you can read many of his recent articles here. I can promise you’ll be reading some of the best writing around.
We hope you enjoyed this interview with Roy S Johnson. we definitely did!
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