Taste of Soul Sunday draws crowds at GRPL


Taste of Soul Sunday has been around at the Grand Rapids Public Library for the past 12 years. Photo courtesy Grand Rapids Public Library.

During Black History Month, the Taste of Soul Sunday celebrated its 12th year at the Grand Rapids Public Library. The Taste of Soul highlights both local and African American culture, through food, live music, and history lectures. This year, over 1,700 people attended the event.

Kristen Krueger-Corrado is the marketing and communications manager at the Grand Rapids Public Library. She enjoys seeing how food brings people together during this event held within the four levels of the Grand Rapids Public Library.

“You see people talking and laughing, learning and dancing, breaking bread together. The more knowledge and understanding we all have about all the cultures in Grand Rapids, the stronger and more inclusive and equitable our community becomes.”

Three bands provided featured live music: Zion Lion, Noel Webley and Jazzy Friends Quintet, and the musician Julius Hight featuring Bedrock.

Samples were provided by local eateries like NoLo’s Soul Kitchen, Ire Kitchen, Big Ed’s BBQ and Mosby’s Popcorn.

Activities for children were also available, such as crafts and a poetry workshop by The Diatribe, a local poetry and art creative group.

Other panel and presentation events included Minnie Forbes & Negro League Baseball, A Brief History of Athlete Activism, Save Our African American Treasures and The Spirit of South High School.


Alumni reminisce about high school days

In The Spirit of South High School, a group of alumni discussed their time going to South High School in Grand Rapids. The high school was opened in 1914 and was closed in 1968. The first graduating class had seven students and the last graduating class had 272 students. The panelists included alumni of the last several graduating classes.

South High School was known for having a diverse student population. One attendee who graduated from South commented that it was roughly forty percent white, 40 percent black and 20 percent Hispanic.

“The education we received was excellent,” commented alumna Anita Christopher. “We prided ourselves on education and interacting with people who are different for both black and white students.”

The panel of alumni was grateful for the enriching and diverse education they received at South, and they strongly believed that it led them to different avenues of success, leading to careers as editors, social activists, lawyers, and community leaders.

Christopher reflected, “A lot of the problems in our society come from the fact that people were not taught how to interact with people who look different than them.”

This was the first year South High Panel was featured, but they hope to return along with other alumni next year for the Taste of Soul Sunday.