Friday, October 24, 2008

The First African-American

John McCain's hero, the 26th president of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt invited the first African-American to the Executive Mansion, aka the White House, for dinner in 1901.

That African-American was Booker T. Washington.

That dinner caused such a stir TR, the real maverick, caved to the criticism and never invited Washington or any other African-American back to the White House again. The criticism came from those that couldn't accept African-Americans as equals. But we in the 21st century must put ourselves in the shoes of our little than over a hundred years ago counterparts and understand that the Civil War had just ended 36 years prior to that historic dinner. Also the Supreme Court had just ruled five years earlier from that dinner on Plessy v. Ferguson, which established racial segregation or "separate but equal" as law of the land.

It would be almost more than half a century later when Plessy v. Ferguson would be over turned via the landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education. And then a decade after that African-Americans would finally be considered equal with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and secure their right to vote with the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

How far we have come from the days of slavery, abolitionism, segregation, and civil rights, to see that an African-American male has a true shot at the highest office in the land which once oppressed him. Barack Obama fought for the nomination of one of the two major political parties against a female and won. That scenario is unimaginable in our nation's history, but it occurred just eight years into the 21st century, where one hundred years prior dining with the president was considered blasphemy.

How far we have come from the day when Booker T. Washington dined with President Theodore Roosevelt. We have come a long way. While it would have been amazing to see President Roosevelt stand up to the bigotry of the times, he would be proud to see that an African-American would be seen as an equal in the eyes of his opponent. The equality between the two major political party candidates is seen simply in their candidacy. We have a lot more to over come, but with Obama's candidacy we have shown that we are taking a step forward.

How far we have come is certainly shown not only in Obama's nomination by a national party but by his certain victory as the 44th president of the United States. One hundred and eight years ago a president of the United States invited an African-American to dine in the White House. One hundred and eight years later we see the the certainty...that an African-American will sit at the head of the table in the White House.

How far we have come since the days of Theodore Roosevelt.

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