By Don Boys, Ph.D.
During the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, a newspaper ran the headline: “It’s a crime worse than treason!” What was the crime? Teddy Roosevelt had invited a black man for dinner in the White House—something that had never been done before. The object of the furor was a 45-year-old, mild-mannered gentleman named Booker T. Washington, known as the “Negro Moses.” Washington was a spellbinding speaker, bestselling author of Up from Slavery, and had tea with Queen Victoria at Windsor Palace! But then, the horror was “justified” since segregation was the law. A Negro had no “right” to dine at the White House. Both men laughed at the headlines.
Many Republicans were horrified at the news, especially in the south. Having a black man for dinner was recognizing him as equal with his host! It even suggested that maybe he could be considered as a possible son-in-law! The spin-masters of Republican politics suggested that it was only lunch, not dinner while others said that the meal was almost an accident. When Washington died in 1915, his obituary suggested the meeting was a “lunch.” Another source suggested that the president and the former slave were talking southern politics (most Blacks were Republicans in the Democrat-dominated Southern states) and White House servants brought some sandwiches on a tray. No, a Black man had dinner at the White House.
But it was more than dinner since it was a family and social affair which compounded the problem. Roosevelt’s wife and three children were there and an old friend visiting the city so the message was: we are all equal. Not in 1901. Both men received death threats. White southern demagogues spilled their bile all over themselves to pander to the haters.
Most Americans, white and black, recognized Washington as the spokesman for Negros. He was able to work with and gain the respect and support from America’s leading white businessmen. However, black militants in the North, with help from liberal Whites formed the NAACP in 1909 to be a more militant, strident voice headed by W.E.B. Du Bois, a black radical Socialist who joined the Communist Party in 1961. Du Bois was probably the best educated Black in the past hundred years and a vocal critic of Washington. Du Bois left America for Ghana in 1961 and died there on Aug. 27, 1963.
James K. Vardaman who became Governor of Mississippi (and later a senator) and Senator Benjamin Tillman of South Carolina (former governor of South Carolina) were white supremacist Democrats who reacted viciously to the White House dinner. Vardaman said, "If it is necessary, every Negro in the state will be lynched; it will be done to maintain white supremacy." Vardaman suggested the White House was "so saturated with the odor of the nig*er that the rats have taken refuge in the stable," and declared "I am just as much opposed to Booker T. Washington as a voter as I am to the cocoanut-headed, chocolate-colored typical little coon who blacks my shoes every morning. Neither is fit to perform the supreme function of citizenship."
Democrat Senator Tillman declared that "The action of President Roosevelt in entertaining that nig*er will necessitate our killing a thousand nig*ers in the South before they will learn their place again." Such jerks did not qualify to polish the shoes of Booker T. Washington and should not have served as doormen at the U.S. Congress. (I disguised nig*er in my quotes only because this column would be rejected by some sources if it were spelled out. It is a perfectly good word often used by bigots in an offensive way.)
Booker had been a slave until the age of 9, then worked in a salt-packing warehouse in West Virginia where his step-father and his mother Jane had moved. His work started at 4:00 AM, so Booker could get to school on time. At age 16 he wanted more education so in 1872 he showed up flat broke and hungry on the doorstep of the Hampton Institute in Virginia.
General Samuel Chapman Armstrong, a former Union soldier, was the head of the Hampton Institute. He was not prejudiced against Blacks as were many others of that era. He believed black men and women simply needed education to succeed. He also felt Blacks would learn best if taught by black teachers. So he asked his prized pupil, Booker T. Washington, to head up a new teacher’s college down in Tuskegee, Alabama—the first ever aimed at educating black students. On July 4, 1881, the school opened its doors as Tuskegee Institute. You may have heard of one of its more famous teachers: George Washington Carver, who became a world-renowned botanist.
Two men sat in the White House dining room, one black and the other white, one a president of the U.S. and the other a former slave, and a photo of Abraham Lincoln could be clearly seen behind and between their chairs.
Today, the issue is not black versus white but collectivist versus conservative; Or Communist versus Christian. Or dictatorship versus democracy, Or regulations versus recovery. This administration specializes in failure, fraud, falsehood, fiction, fakery, and fabrication. I choose freedom.
Proving that Americans are not racists (but are fools), we have put a radical black president in the White House and I wonder if he would have invited Booker T. Washington to the White House for dinner, what with Booker’s very Christian, conservative, and common sense ideas? I wonder if Blacks such as Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, Dr. Benjamin Carson, or war veteran statesman Allen West, or successful businessman Herman Cain, or Ambassador Alan Keyes, or a host of other such outstanding black leaders have been invited to dinner with the Obamas. Or even their white counterparts? That kind of bipartisanship and balance would be scandalous to our progressive, willfully blind media!
Maybe it’s time for another scandal at the White House! How about Obama recommending a day of honor for one of my boyhood heroes, Booker T. Washington?
Copyright 2013, Don Boys, Ph.D.
(Dr. Don Boys is a former member of the Indiana House of Representatives, author of 15 books, frequent guest on television and radio talk shows, and wrote columns for USA Today for 8 years. His shocking book, ISLAM: America's Trojan Horse!; Christian Resistance: An Idea Whose Time Has Come–Again!; and The God Haters are all available at Amazon.com. These columns go to newspapers, magazines, television, and radio stations and may be used without change from title through the end tag. His web sites are www.cstnews.com and www.Muslimfact.com and www.thegodhaters.com. Contact Don for an interview or talk show.)
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