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.


Our thanks to Marcus Books in Oakland for fulfilling book orders


Marcus Books


In association with INFORUM.

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


Bernard Osher Foundation

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