YWCA Greater Charleston MLK Parade 2023 Parade Marshal KJ Kearney

January 12, 2023
KJ Kearney KJ Kearney

KJ Kearney is a Black food historian, content creator, and food & beverage influencer based in Charleston, South Carolina. On the founding of the culture-shifting Black Food Fridays platform, he says, “I initially started the Black Food Fridays Instagram account as a way for people to find and support Black-owned restaurants during the COVID-19 *panorama*. It has since evolved into an aggregation account where I share Black food history and curate the best in Black-owned food and beverages by highlighting dishes, desserts, drinks, and the people who make them.”

Black Food Fridays is a James Beard Award-nominated social media advocacy initiative that encourages everyone who eats food to support Black-owned restaurants each and every Friday. Since launching in April 2020, Black Food Fridays has grown organically to reach an audience of over 250,000 people across social media.

Widely acclaimed for his innate ability to breakdown complex topics in a way that is both understandable and entertaining to a wide variety of people, KJ has been a featured speaker, moderator, host, or panelist for many organizations including: SXSW (South by SouthWest), SURJ (Standing Up For Racial Justice), the Columbia Museum of Art, Creative Mornings Charleston, and the Charleston Chamber of Commerce.

In 2018, KJ also founded and wrote a proclamation celebrating red rice (the American cousin of West African Jollof), which received a formal resolution from the City of Charleston. He has produced numerous events for both the City of Charleston and the City of North Charleston and was a guest columnist for the Charleston City Paper.
KJ is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha (the first Greek letter fraternity for African Americans), a proud graduate of the historically Black South Carolina State University, a brother, son, “Uncle of the Year” candidate, reformed sneakerhead, and trap music apologist.