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Georgetown Professor Studying Impact of Fast Food on Blacks

An associate professor of history at Georgetown University in D.C. has received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to conduct research into fast food’s impact on the African-American community.

Professor Marcia Chatelain said despite the jobs, scholarships and opportunities that fast-food franchises have provided in black communities, dependence on fast food in many black neighborhoods has contributed to racial health disparities between blacks and whites.

Noting that many such contributions have gone unnoticed, Chatelain’s research will culminate with a book, tentatively titled “From Sit-In to Drive-Thru: Black America in the Age of Fast Food.”

Chatelain said African-American fast-food entrepreneurs “funded civil rights initiatives and their stores served as a meeting place for black children, senior citizens and voter registration drives.”

“Unfortunately, these benefits came at a high price after fast food became the primary supplier of unhealthy fare and low-wage employment in the nation’s most impoverished areas,” the Chicago native said. “While there is a significant scholarship on the history of black business, no scholar has heretofore.”

Chatelain, a graduate of the University of Missouri, where she majored in journalism and religious studies, holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in American civilization from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

Her previous book, “South Side Girls: Growing Up in the Great Migration,” was published in 2015 by Duke University Press.

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