Every February, Marshall hosts the feast as one of the numerous events in recognition of Black History Month. Cooks filled the buffet with traditional dishes such as fried chicken, barbecue ribs and chitterlings served along with collard greens, macaroni and cheese, salad, plus a variety of desserts including sweet potato pie.
The event took place 90 years to the day after Woodson dedicated Negro History Week, which started Feb. 7, 1926.
Derek Robinson, graduate adviser at the Center for African American Students at Marshall, said it was unusual to have a person honored at the event, but said they could not pass up the opportunity as the community celebrates the 140th year since his birth.
"We might look forward to doing something every year to follow. This year, definitely (him), though," he said. "He was the godfather of black history, so we thought it would be a good idea to spotlight that at the soul food feast. (We did it) just to let everyone hear about someone who is actually from here."
Sadie Hutchinson, a friend of a student at Marshall, said it was her first time at the event and was disappointed she hadn't started coming sooner.
"This is better than my grandma's cooking," she said. "I have lived in and out of the area for a long time, but I never knew it was this good. I would have come sooner. It's hard to get a good meal these days. I feel like I've been let down by people who downplay it."
For more than 25 years, the feast has attracted not only Marshall students, but faculty, staff, alumni and community members as well. Robinson said food was made for more than 500 people this year.
Woodson's impact as a historian and his history in Huntington was discussed before food was served.
Woodson, the child of former slaves, dropped out of school to support his family through coal mining in Fayette County, West Virginia. He returned and graduated from Douglass School in Huntington at the age of 20. Later, he returned to Douglass High School as its principal before moving on to become the second black person to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard.
Huntington Mayor Steve Williams also read from a proclamation declaring Feb. 5 to be Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson Day in the city. The city originally announced the proclamation last Friday at Drinko Library.
Robinson said he is amazed how many people come together for the annual event, especially those in prominent positions in the community.
"This is an on-campus celebration of culture. That's the best way I could honestly explain it. There's good food and good people. What more could you ask for in a student environment?" he said. "My favorite part is seeing everybody, even the dignitaries, actually roll up their sleeves, get down and dirty, enjoy the good food and laughs, smile and have a good time. "
Robinson said comradery is what soul food and the event are all about.
"Actually, the origin of soul food comes from the comradery of everybody getting together and making what they can with what they have," he said. "Today (was) just about coming together, enjoying good food and enjoying the fellowship of one another."
The celebration of Black History Month continues at 6 p.m. Tuesday with a lecture from Ronald L. Spriggs. As part of the Highlands Museum and Discovery Center's Black History Month celebrations, historian Sprigg will speak about the Tuskegee Airmen, the first all-black combat unit in the U.S. Army Air Corps.
Follow reporter Courtney Hessler at Facebook.com/HesslerHD and via Twitter @Hessler_HD.
Article from the Herald Dispatch Feb 7, 2016 http://www.herald-dispatch.com/news/soul-food-feast-serves-in-another-successful-year/article_3be990b9-be01-5bc9-8bfb-1906e085766a.html