Booker T. Washington and Dinner at the White House
Because of his politics, many whites became friends to Washington and donors to the Tuskegee institute. Washington was so popular for his views on race that President Theodore Roosevelt sought out his counsel on many occasions on the subject. On October 16, 1901, Roosevelt invited Washington to a private dinner at the White House but it had to be canceled after an outcry from southern Democrats who objected to the two men meeting because it would make the two appear as equals.
The legacy of Booker T. Washington has been controversial. Many believe he sold out his people by encouraging Blacks to “prove their worth” to whites by becoming productive members of society — at a time when they were mired in overt racism. Still, it cannot be denied that he has made significant contributions to the progress of African-Americans, working to provide education for Black people at a time when that was not easily accessible. He navigated many obstacles to become the first leader of Tuskegee Institute, a feat that deserves respect.