White House Sketches
Booker T. Washington Dines at the White House
October 16, 1901
President Theodore Roosevelt often invited people to dinner to discuss public affairs. He had among his guests the educator Booker T. Washington, whose autobiography, Up From Slavery, was then highly popular. The guests remembered a simple, cordial evening. The next morning a news release of the White House guest list sparked harsh criticism of Roosevelt in editorials from newspapers throughout the south. The furor over the dinner—the first time that an African American was entertained at the White House—revealed the structure’s symbolic power and the bigotry then at large in the nation.