Rachel Louise Martin, Ph.D., is a writer and public intellectual. She earned a doctorate in women's and gender history from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.​ Her work has appeared in O Magazine, Oxford AmericanThe Atlantic online and CityLab, and she was a guest columnist for Catapult. She has been featured on the BBC's Food Chain, KCRW's Good Food and the Michelle Meow Show. Her essay "How Hot Chicken Really Happened" was included in Cornbread Nation 2015: The Best of Southern Food Writing.​ Her first book, Hot, Hot Chicken: A Nashville Story, will be out in Spring 2021.

Read more here. 

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These days, hot chicken is a "must-try" Southern food. Restaurants in New York, Detroit, Cambridge, and even Australia advertise that they fry their chicken "Nashville-style." Thousands of people attend the Music City Hot Chicken Festival each year. The James Beard Foundation has given Prince's Chicken Shack an American Classic Award for inventing the dish. 

 

But for almost seventy years, hot chicken was made and sold primarily in Nashville's Black neighborhoods--and the story of hot chicken says something powerful about race relations in Nashville, especially as the city tries to figure out what it will be in the future. 

 

Hot, Hot Chicken recounts the history of Nashville's Black communities through the story of its hot chicken scene from the Civil War, when Nashville became a segregated city, through the tornado that ripped through North Nashville in March 2020.

​"Focusing on a single dish and the branches of the Prince family who created it, Rachel Louise Martin uses Nashville's signature, world-famous hot chicken to guide us through the history of a quintessential southern American town. This book serves as a comprehensive guide to a great city and to the people who were positively influenced by the very African American culture it sought, so often, to undermine. The delicacy of hot chicken is a thread between two cultures and gives historical perspective to this culinary craze."

--Carla Hall, chef and author of Carla Hall's Soul Food: Everyday and Celebration

Selected Publications:

Hoods in My Hymnal, Oxford American

Hoods in My Hymnal, Oxford American

How Hot Chicken Really Happened, Bitter

How Hot Chicken Really Happened, Bitter Southerner

Cherisse Scott: The Sex-Ed Evangelist, O Magazine

Cherisse Scott: The Sex-Ed Evangelist, O Magazine

Let Me Tell You About Coal Creek, Oxford American

Let Me Tell You About Coal Creek, Oxford American

Owning Up, Bitter Southerner

Owning Up, Bitter Southerner

"When You’re the Last Remaining Member of a Failed Utopia," Catapult

"When You’re the Last Remaining Member of a Failed Utopia," Catapult

"Making Eyes on the Prize: An Oral History," The Ford Foundation

"Making Eyes on the Prize: An Oral History," The Ford Foundation

"Some People Stay," Oxford American

"Some People Stay," Oxford American

“Salvaging Education in Rural America,” The Atlantic online

“Salvaging Education in Rural America,” The Atlantic online

"Chasing Nashville's Ghosts," Narratively

"Chasing Nashville's Ghosts," Narratively

“The Brave & Tragic Trail of Reverend Turner," Narratively

“The Brave & Tragic Trail of Reverend Turner," Narratively

“Walking in Nashville," CityLab

“Walking in Nashville," CityLab

"The Cedars of Lebanon," Bitter Southerner

"The Cedars of Lebanon," Bitter Southerner

"The Utopian Colony Around Tennessee’s Oldest Library," Catapult

"The Utopian Colony Around Tennessee’s Oldest Library," Catapult

"The Clinton 12," US of America

"The Clinton 12," US of America

"Swedish in a Southern Drawl,"The Inquisitive Eater

"Swedish in a Southern Drawl,"The Inquisitive Eater

Black love: Life is (still) good for Emma and Thomas Trass, MLK50

Black love: Life is (still) good for Emma and Thomas Trass, MLK50

“Can Technology and a New Way of Teaching Help Ghana’s Schools?” The Kernel by the Daily Dot

“Can Technology and a New Way of Teaching Help Ghana’s Schools?” The Kernel by the Daily Dot

“The Truth Behind UNC Football’s Dark Confederate Past," Ozy

“The Truth Behind UNC Football’s Dark Confederate Past," Ozy

“‘It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards,’ says the White Queen to Alice” ― Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

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