#KeeperoftheDay for #PresidentsDay – LBJ Presidential Library Oral History Collection.
While doing research for our Hidden Kitchens story, Black Chef, White House, we came across an oral history done with Zephyr Wright at the LBJ Presidential Library. Wright was working as a home economics student at the historically black Wiley College in Texas when Lady Bird Johnson hired her as the family’s chef. She cooked for the Johnsons for 27 years in Texas and Washington, D.C.
In a lilting, gentle voice, Ms. Wright tells her stories:
“The first night that I met President Johnson, he was late as usual. He was always late for meals …. Now there have been times that he’d get on the phone himself and call me and ask me how long would it take to get something ready for the whole Cabinet and sometimes he’d walk in with them and you didn’t even know he’s coming. And I’ve seen a time that I’ve fixed a meal in 10 minutes for 25 or 30 people.”
President Johnson’s awareness of the difficulties Wright experienced traveling through the segregated South — the hardship and humiliation of not being served in restaurants on the road, the difficulty of finding accommodations — are believed to have influenced his work on civil rights reform and legislation.
Listen to Black Chef, White House: