Zephyr Wright: The White House Cook, Know Her
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Zephyr Wright observed President Lyndon Johnson going through his numerous pens as he signed the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964. He took one from her and said, "You deserve this more than anybody else."

1914 saw the birth of Mrs. Wright in Marshall, Texas. On the surface, she was neither a legislator nor a Civil Rights campaigner. In 1942, First Lady Lady Bird Johnson asked Wiley College President Matthew W. Dogan to locate a student she might hire to fill the role of cook for the Johnson family. As a result, she was given the job. 

After the Johnsons moved back to their ranch on the Pedernales River in 1969, she never worked again and decided to stay in Washington, D.C.

Wiley College's intellectual excellence was well acknowledged throughout the 1930s and 1940s. The Southern Association of Colleges and Universities certified it as Texas's first historically significant black college. 

Mrs. Wright graduated from Marshall's Central High School, one of the first 12 African American high schools in Texas to receive an "A" rating from the state. In an exhibition debate in 1935, the University of Southern California, the white national champions, were upset by the debate team led by Melvin Tolson. Reopened in 1941, the Department of Economics built a lecture auditorium, laboratories, a mock dining hall, and a housing facility. 

In his final year as college president, Dr. Dogan indeed desired the best student to work for Congressman Johnson's family. Even though Mrs. Wright was still an undergraduate, he picked her. According to specific biographical sources, she used the Johnson family's income to finish her degree.

During their journey from Marshall to Washington, DC, Lady Bird was first introduced to the dehumanising environment that the country's African Americans had to endure. They spent the night at Memphis, Tennessee's renowned Peabody Hotel. Mrs. Johnson requested two rooms. The desk clerk pointed at Mrs. Wright, stating, "They had a room for someone, but not for her."

Newspapers from Maine to Hawaii carried reprints of Mrs. Wright's adventures cooking for the Johnsons by 1963, when Johnson had just become president.

The South Westerners brought a new culinary style to the White House. The Marshall News Messenger, published in Mrs. Wright's hometown, carried one of the earliest stories. What would the family have for Thanksgiving dinner, she was asked. 

The centrepiece of the feast would be the turkey. Rosia was characterised as the southern meal with orange pieces and whipped cream, while the remainder of the menu consisted of cornbread dressing in a side dish AMB. She continued by saying she could only think of dressing with giblet gravy and whipped sweet potatoes with green beans. Of course, she usually eats hot buns and cranberry salad.

And on the Wednesday preceding this magnificent feast, Ms. Wright attended President Johnson's first speech to a joint Congress session from the House of Representatives family box, at Mrs. Johnson's request.

René Verdon, Kennedy's French chef, continued to serve as the official White House cook, and LBJ engaged in combat shortly after. 

Being anything but extravagant, Johnson switched from fresh to inexpensive frozen veggies as one of his first actions. Verdon was so enraged by this that he left, caused a scandal, and said he didn't want to "lose his reputation" in the White House by preparing "lousy" frozen foods. 

Writers at the time claimed that those arguments had nothing to do with food purchases made at the White House. Johnson desired for the globe to be represented at the president's table. Verdon was fired after two years, and Mrs. Wright took over as the official White House chef. She was called "an exceptionally talented African-American cook specialising in making virtuosity soul food" by several writers.