Executive Director Baylen Linnekin to Present Research on Food, Assembly Rights, Protest, & Social Change at Boston University Conference

Keep Food Legal executive director Baylen Linnekin will travel to Boston, Mass. later this month to present his research on the link between food, the freedom of assembly, protest, and social change. The "Food and the City" conference at Boston University, located a short distance from Linnekin's childhood home in Beverly, Mass., comes as Linnekin's Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly article on the fundamental link between colonial American taverns and the First Amendment's Assembly Clause is set for publication.

"A large part of my research in the area of culinary freedom involves the connections I have unearthed between food and the nation's founding, including the role food and food rights played in inspiring and shaping the First Amendment's Assembly Clause," says Linnekin. "In 'Tavern Talk' & the Origins of the Assembly Clause, I describe the role that colonial American taverns played in both the exercise of assembly and in the framing of the Assembly Clause.

"I have recently expanded on this theme, and am excited to present a working paper, Food, Assembly Rights, & the Struggle for Social Change in Urban America, as a panelist at this month's prestigious 'Food and the City' conference--a two-day symposium that will feature many of the country's most prominent food historians and food-studies faculty. In the working paper I discuss how the revolutionary assembly that took place in colonial taverns has been duplicated by successive generations in and around food and drink in order to bring about lasting and important social change. Examples include assembly in speakeasies that helped end Prohibition; sit-ins at lunch counters that helped advance the Civil Rights movement; protests in gay bars like the Stonewall Inn that helped launch the gay-rights movement; and virtual gatherings on Twitter and other social-media platforms that are presently helping food trucks push back against discriminatory regulations.

"In order to protect our most cherished freedoms, we must understand where and how these freedoms emerged. Our constitutional freedom of assembly arose in colonial American taverns. With tavern assembly recently threatened in New York City (among other places), food trucks under attack in many cities, and other restrictions on food-related assembly creeping forward across the country, I hope my research will present a forceful tool that Keep Food Legal and others can wield to fight back against encroachments on the freedom of assembly and other rights that find their origins in food."

Read Linnekin's abstract here. Those of you who live in the Boston area can register to attend the free Food and the City conference here.