Guess who came to dinner

On the page opposite this, a brief item in the Years Ago column notes that 100 years ago today Booker T. Washington was a dinner guest of President Theodore Roosevelt at the White House, sparking controversy.
A hundred years ago, a distinguished black educator could not eat dinner in the White House with the president without some people getting in high dudgeon. Today, a black man is secretary of state, and while Colin Powell might not have been able to win the Republican presidential nomination in 2000, the vice presidency was his for the asking. He chose not to ask.
That can fairly be described as a century of progress. And it can fairly be described as falling short. Why should race even be a factor in determining who sits anywhere in the White House, in 1901 or in 2001?
The rest of the story: But back to history. The controversy that followed that dinner of 1901, it should be noted, was centered in the South. A story in the Oct. 19 Vindicator under a headline of "SOUTHERNERS ANGRY" reported that "the action of President Roosevelt in receiving Prof. Booker T. Washington of Tuskegee Institute at dinner has aroused a violent storm in New Orleans. ... The New Orleans papers, with the exception of the Picayune, condemn the action of the president as an intended insult to the south."
We're happy to report that a Vindicator editorial Oct. 21 defended Roosevelt.
If this look back makes Roosevelt sound like a man before his time, he was only slightly so. The same man who invited Washington to his table wrote to a friend, the novelist Owen Wister: "Now as to the Negroes; I entirely agree with you that as a race and in the mass they are altogether inferior to whites. & quot; Roosevelt considered Booker T. Washington an exception to the rule.
Alas, the Rough Rider had feet of clay.