Our lead story in today’s food section is about Michael Twitty, a culinary historian I met last year and whose work I’ve been following ever since.

Twitty gained national attention this summer with his open letter to Paula Deen, but his efforts extend far beyond the racial controversy of the summer. Last year, he traveled throughout the South cooking at plantations as part of his "Southern Discomfort Tour," which is just one of many ways Twitty gets his audiences to talk openly about the connections between history and current foodways, culture and race relations.

This week, Twitty will be one of the keynote speakers at the second annual Food for Black Thought Symposium, a free two-day event that explores African-American culinary traditions and foodways as well as issues including food access and production; gentrification; racial integration in food businesses, including restaurants; and how food can be a pathway to deeper conversations about race in America.

The symposium starts at 11 a.m. Friday at the John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies on the second floor of the Jester Center, 201 E. 21st St., on the University of Texas campus. Saturday’s sessions will be from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the George Washington Carver Cultural Center, 1165 Angelina St.

Other keynote speakers include Sistah Vegan blogger/author Amie Breeze Harper and Louis "Pancho" McFarland, an associate professor of sociology at Chicago State University. The lineup also features former employees of the historic Night Hawk restaurant chain, who will talk about integration in the kitchen, and co-organizer Naya Jones, who will talk about the changing food landscape of East Austin.

I’ll be tweeting from some of the sessions on Friday, and you can find the full schedule and RSVP at ffbt2013.eventbrite.com.