Mother said He is well-spoken and conducts himself as a gentleman. I see nothing wrong with it. When Mr. Roosevelt was in the White House he gave dinner to Booker T. Washington. Surely we can serve tea to Coalhouse Walker Jr.
In October 1901, Theodore Roosevelt invited his adviser, Booker T. Washington, to dinner at the White House with Roosevelt and his family. The day after the dinner, the White House released a statement titled, "Booker T Washington of Tuskegee, Alabama, dined with the President last evening". Southern press and politicians responded viciously, attacking the character of both Washington and Roosevelt. Senator Benjamin Tillman of South Carolina said, "we shall have to kill a thousand n*ggers to get them back in their places". Northern press were more accepting, highlighting the accomplishments of Washington and suggesting that the dinner was Roosevelt's attempt to show he was everybody's president. Even the black community was divided over Washington's appearance at the White House. Some responded positively, while others painted Washington as a hypocrite for agreeing to the dinner in the first place.
After this reaction, no other African American was invited to dine at the White House for nearly thirty years.
Legendary ragtime composer, Scott Joplin, wrote his first opera about this polarizing event, entitled A Guest of Honor. To this day, no copy of the score has been found, and it is considered lost.
Dramaturgy for the Ragtime musical and novel.
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