Image - Adrian Miller
Past Event

Black Smoke: African Americans and the United States of Barbecue

This July 4, the country will be emerging from the pandemic to celebrate the most patriotic of holidays with friends and family. At The Commonwealth Club, just days before the holiday, we'll be re-opening our doors and cracking open our grills in a special event that celebrates an iconic American food: barbecue! We’ll explore this rich and historic food, particularly the essential role that African Americans have played in the development of the cuisine. Audiences can watch either online or join us in-person!

Adrian Miller, author of, Black Smoke: African Americans and the United States of Barbecue, will kick off our event with stories of Black perseverance, culinary innovation, and entrepreneurship in the world of barbecue. His work illustrates that despite cultural marginalization, African Americans have enriched a now-embraced barbecue culture tied strongly to summer holidays and recounts how Black barbecuers, pitmasters and restaurateurs are coming into their own after having helped develop this American cuisine, incorporating techniques first pioneered by Native Americans. Miller is also featured in the new Netflix special "High on the Hog," about African-American food history.

San Francisco Chronicle columnist Justin Phillips will interview Miller in the Taube Family Auditorium at our headquarters on the Embarcadero.

Following the program, the live audience is invited to our rooftop for a special afterparty to enjoy mouth-watering BBQ from West Oakland’s Horn Barbeque! Owners Matt and Nina Horn will join us in person for a brief discussion on the Texas barbecue traditions honored in the food of their popular East Bay eatery (Matt Horn is featured in Miller’s book). The cost for food is included in the ticket price for the program.

We are thrilled to open our doors again for the first time in 15 months and hope that you will join us for a late afternoon of history, celebration and community! Seating to the in-person event is very limited, so act fast! COVID guidelines will be enforced.


Attendees: Please bring proof of vaccination.

This program has 2 types of tickets available: In-person and online-only. Food is included in the ticket price for the in-person tickets. Naturally, food is only available to the audience members in attendance.

Safety Protocols
• We follow best practices laid out by the CDC and state and local guidelines.
• All guests, staff and volunteers must be vaccinated and show proof of vaccination.
• Masks and social distancing are required indoors.
• Elevators are limited to a maximum of four (4) people at a time.

Our LEED Gold-certified building is designed to cool with outside air, using digitally controlled moveable windows and large ceiling fans. We are deploying additional HEPA filters inside to scrub the air. This is all in addition to increased cleaning of surfaces throughout the building.

Copies of Black Smoke are available for purchase at checkout (U.S. domestic shipping only); our thanks to Marcus Books in Oakland for fulfilling book orders

In association with INFORUM.

This program is part of our Food Lit series, underwritten by the Bernard Osher Foundation.

June 28, 2021

The Commonwealth Club of California
110 The Embarcadero
Taube Family Auditorium
San Francisco, CA 94105
United States

Image - Adrian Miller

Adrian Miller

Writer; Certified Barbecue Judge; Attorney; Author, Black Smoke: African Americans and the United States of Barbecue

Image - Justin Phillips

In Conversation with Justin Phillips

Columnist, San Francisco Chronicle

Image - Brenda Wright

Welcome by Brenda Wright

Senior Vice President & Director of Community Relations (West Region), Wells Fargo & Co.; Member, Commonwealth Club Board of Governors