In the autumn of 1901, Booker T. Washington, the great educator, author, and orator, was on a speaking tour. In Mississippi, he received a telegram from President Theodore Roosevelt, who had taken office less than 2 months before after President William McKinley's assassination.

In the telegram Roosevelt invited Washington to a conference in the capitol on the 16th of October. Right after Washington's arrival on that day, he was invited to a dinner, which was destined to become historic. In those times inviting a black man to dinner at the White House was nothing but a very remarkable event. News of the unique dinner traveled across the country throughout the night, and all the newspapers offered their opinions in the morning issues. Journalists in the North were quite positive, but Southern papers attacked both Roosevelt and Washington with fervor.

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