New York City (JFK+50) A century and ten years ago today, February 13, 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt, speaking to the Republican Club here in New York City, said that social and economic equality among the races should come "slowly" and that it should come not from government imposed changes but through a change in attitudes.
Despite that counsel, however, on October 16, 1901, shortly after assuming the presidency, TR had invited African-American leader Booker T. Washington* of Tuskegee Institute as his dinner guest, the first time a black person had ever been invited to a private dinner at the White House.
Mr. Washington's advocacy of vocational training and education for his race coincided with Mr. Roosevelt's expressed view that in the reality of the day racial equality would only come through the slow, methodical passage of time.
Another black leader of the day, however, did not agree with this view. W.E.B. Du Bois**, the first African-American to earn a PhD. and co-founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, worked to achieve full political, economic and social equality for his race.
Despite this fact, Dr. Du Bois eloquently wrote in "The Souls of Black Folks,"...
"Even so is the hope that sang in the songs of my fathers well sung. If somewhere in this whirl and chaos of things there dwells Eternal Good, pitiful and masterful, then anon in His good time America shall rend the Veil and the prisoned shall go free."
Booker T. Washington
**W.E.B. Du Bois (1863-1963), born in Great Barrington, MA, was a pioneering civil rights leader and prolific author. Dr. Du Bois, who received his Ph.D from Harvard in 1895, taught economics and history at Atlanta University and edited the Crisis, the magazine of the NAACP. Du Bois lived the last years of his life in Ghana.
"A Patriot's Handbook: Songs, Poems, Stories, and Speeches Celebrating the Land We Love," Selected and Introduced by Caroline Kennedy, Hyperion, New York, 2003.
"Guess Who Came To Dinner: From Booker T. Washington to Barack Obama" by Ariel Gonzales, www.huffingtonpost.com
"The Souls of Black Folk, The Sorrow Songs," by W.E.B, Du Bois, 1903.
"The Man Who Came to Dinner", Edwardian Promenade, 1/23/2009