From Morning Call:
A benefit brunch for the soup kitchen at Bethlehem’s Trinity Episcopal Church honored Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but also dished up a delicious taste of black history Sunday, thanks to its added focus on Edna “Ma” Bragg.
Bragg, who became cook, caterer and confidant to famous Manhattanites, grew up in the Jim Crow South. During her 40-year career, she served foods to admirers including Jackie Onassis, Andy Warhol, Leonard Bernstein, Casey Stengel and Dick Clark.
Her daughters, Oceola Bragg of Elizabeth, N.J. and Gladys Bragg of New York City, shared memories of their mother at the brunch. The event featured Ma Bragg’s dishes, a “refresher” course on the works and times of Dr. Martin Luther King, spirituals sung by Grace Adele Spuriell and sharing a birthday cake in King’s honor.
The program featuring Gladys’ happy memories of a loving mother who always put her children first also included unsettling accounts of a few of the family’s experiences with discrimination.
“We were vacationing in Virginia and stopped for lunch at an F.W. Woolworth store. There were no seats left in the ‘colored’ section, so we sat in the ‘white’ section. We sat for 30 minutes without anyone serving us. We sat for another 15 minutes. That’s when my mother put on her stern look that dared anyone to give us trouble. We got menus and were served. Although we didn’t get arrested, I like to think of my mother as the Rosa Parks of Woolworths,” said Oceola.