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Tribute to Zephyr Wright, White House Chef for LBJ's Administration

Melanie Wong | Mar 5, 201902:06 PM     1

" . . . Zephyr Wright’s legacy is among the longest-lasting in the White House Kitchen. Unlike Verdon, Wright’s debut didn’t make the front page of the New York Times. Julia Child never mentioned Wright’s influence. And perfectly cooked spare ribs weren’t considered the vanguard of American cuisine. But the American public was still interested. . .

. . . Several years later, on July 2, 1964, Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act. He gave the pen he used to sign it to Zephyr Wright, telling her she '[deserved] it more than anyone else.' Many believe that Wright explained the realities of racism to him, and, as Miller notes, Johnson used examples of the racism Wright faced when pressing for the bill. She used her proximity to the powerful family to make her experience of inequality legible and human. As the woman in charge of their table, she had that ability."

When The President And His Chef Feuded Over Cold Beans

It was part of an “enduring rivalry” between African-American and French cooking in the White House.

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