Event brings soul to Cats Den


Sophomore Elementary Education major Kourtney Draughn receives a bowl of Okra as part of UK’s Black History Month soul food event in the Cat’s Den, which involves serving various types of soul foods while teaching about the history behind each on Monday, February 2, 2015. Photo by Marcus Dorsey

By Sarah Brookbank

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The Cats Den was full of students and the smell of soul food on Monday night for its Black History Month kick off with the Martin Luther King Center.

Collard greens, fried okra, candied yams and BBQ chicken were served with a side of history to the students who went to “What’s Cooking? Taste the History of Soul Food.” The partnership between the MLK Center and The Cats Den is one of three this month, including a rap battle and a spades tournament.

Dustin Adams, assistant director of the Student Center, said that this was the first pairing between the Cats Den and the MLK Center but that it wouldn’t be the last. Their goal for the night was 60 students, but by the time the yams were served 84 students had come to the table.

“The more diverse students a program gets the better,” Adams said.

Political science freshman Devin Byrd spoke to the crowd about the history of the food they were eating, tracing the roots back to Africa and the Caribbean. According to Byrd, collard greens were inspired by one-pot meals in West Africa, and okra came from Ethiopia and was used as a thickening agent.

“It’s hard to get close to a home cooked meal on campus. It reminded me of home,” Byrd said.

Byrd noted that the yams were his favorite, and that even though he doesn’t like greens or okra, he tried them.

Broadcast journalism freshman Alexis Winston said that the greens were her favorite part of the meal because they were seasoned right and made with smoked turkey. Winston also noted that she plans to go to more of the events during Black History Month, and that she is particularly interested in the rap battle.

“My favorite was the fried okra because I tried something new and I liked it,” said Kourtney Draughn, an elementary education sophomore.

Kahlil Baker, director of the MLK Center said food is a way to connect to a large portion of the student body.

“When I think of black history and culture, two of the biggest things that come to mind are music and food,” Baker said.

Baker helped serve the food to the gathered students and said that the diversity of the crowd was exciting.

“Often when you look at Martin Luther King Center events you see a majority of black students, and when you look at the other side of the Student Center … you have a mostly white population,” Baker said. “When we work together we see this kind of diversity.”