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Dillard University Ray Charles Program in African American Material Culture

Where Culture Meets Education


This program aims to understand how African, Caribbean, European, and American cultures coalesced to create a culture that is uniquely African American. The Ray Charles Program takes a deeper look at how African American culture is portrayed and taught in an effort to not only preserve that culture, but allow our students to take ownership of it as well.

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What Is Material Culture?

Material culture refers to the physical objects, resources, and spaces that people use to define their culture. Literature, food, art, film, music, and clothing are all just a small sliver of what represents material culture. To understand material culture, students must develop a firm grasp of African American history and how our culture has formed and evolved over the years.

Why Create a Program Focused on Material Culture?

The vision of the Dillard University Ray Charles Program in African American Material Culture is to be the premier center for culinary and cultural research in the South. This program is the first of its kind at any HBCU or any American university.




The Story of New Orleans Creole Cooking:

The Black Hand in the Pot

The film was made as a student project, and it was partially funded with a grant from the Louisiana Endowment for Humanities.



How to Support the Ray Charles Program

We need your financial support to help us build and sustain programming that prepares students for careers in food and the arts. Our goal is to help students see value in culture and how it is integrated in every aspect of mainstream culture. With an intensive co-curricular project based program that prepares students to be global citizens, the Ray Charles Program invites interested students to enter into non-traditional careers in food journalism, photography and film, research, museum studies, curatorial projects, business and policy. We offer diverse programming throughout the academic year to students, faculty, staff, researchers and the community.

Past Guest Speakers


Contact Us

Zella Palmer
Chair and Director of the Dillard University Ray Charles Program in African-American Material Culture

Phone: 504.816.4091

Email: zpalmer@dillard.edu

2601 Gentilly Blvd., New Orleans LA, 70122

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Dillard University

2601 Gentilly Boulevard
New Orleans, Louisiana 70122

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