Top image, Sierra Nicole Rhoden/Chicago Tribune. Bottom image by Donna Battle Pierce for NPR
“Inside the dark theater, during a recent showing of Hidden Figures, the pioneering food journalist and cookbook writer Freda DeKnight came to mind several times,” writes Donna Battle Pierce.
Born in 1909, DeKnight spent much of her 54 years collecting, protecting and celebrating African-American culture and traditions in the years after World War II up to the civil rights movement. Yet her name has been all but forgotten – she doesn’t even have that most basic of 21st century acknowledgements, a Wikipedia page.
As the first food editor for Ebony magazine, DeKnight wrote a photo-driven monthly column that offered her home economist’s tips, as well as regional recipes from the “Negro community” of home cooks, professional chefs, caterers, restaurateurs and celebrities.