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In his new book, “Teddy and Booker T: How two American icons paved the way for racial equality.” Fox & Friends anchor and author Brian Kilmeade explains how Theodore Roosevelt and American intellectual and former slave Booker T. Washington worked together to further racial equality in the United States. I’ll tell you about it.Roosevelt sought advice from Washington as he struggled to steer the country, especially the South. — Moving forward in the wake of Jim Crow laws and racial violence. An excerpt is shown below.
A full five years after promising Booker T. Washington that he would come to visit Tuskegee Normal Industrial Institute, Theodore Roosevelt finally arrived in Alabama. His train stopped early in the morning on October 24, 1905, first stopping in the town of Tuskegee. It was a chilly day for October, but the 2,000 residents, many from the surrounding villages of Tallassee and Cheha, filled the streets in wagons and horse-drawn carriages pulled by horses and mules. Tuskegee’s black and white residents lined side streets and the town square to catch a glimpse of the president.
After receiving greetings from the mayor, President Roosevelt gave a short speech. It was warmly received – a rare honor for the chief magistrate of the United States to stop in an Alabama town – but people were wary. Two Pinkerton detectives had arrived two days earlier to identify a “suspicious individual” who may have “evil plans for Dr. Washington.” Since McKinley’s assassination, Roosevelt himself regularly carried a revolver in public, but there seemed to be a constant sense of danger to Washington, even close to his home. Exactly one year ago, Congressman Tom Heflin of the same district stood on the steps of the Tuskegee courthouse and threatened to lynch Washington. In response, the partisan crowd gave a standing ovation. But the day of President Roosevelt’s visit will be a peaceful day.
After reboarding the presidential train, the group traveled the final mile along a dedicated branch line that connects the school to the main line. There Mr. Booker greeted his friend Theodore, and they sat in a fine carriage built by the school’s students. The carriage is pulled by horses bred in the Tuskegee pastures and driven by a young man wearing a blue school uniform with brass buttons. They headed directly to the elaborately decorated judging stand.
On this day in history, October 27, 1858, American giant Teddy Roosevelt was born in New York City.
Roosevelt needed to see the Washington campus to truly believe it, and the president was surprised. In just 25 years, enrollment at Tuskegee Normal School increased from its original 30 students to 1,500. That number exceeded the enrollment of Roosevelt’s own alma mater, the ancient and venerated Harvard University. The physical factory, once little more than a shack with a leaky roof, now consists of 33 buildings, most of them tall and constructed of bricks made on site. many are named after philanthropist captains of industry such as Carnegie, Rockefeller, and Huntington. Booker Taliaferro Washington created all of this, and even had an endowment of more than $1 million.
The parade features men in blue uniforms, white gloves, and cadet hats, women in blue dresses trimmed with red braids, and students in blue straw hats marching past the judging table. It started with that. A total of 61 floats followed, each representing an area of Tuskegee activity, from broom making to blacksmithing, sawmills to machining, architecture to agriculture. Students on all floats practiced some aspect of discipline. The girls made butter with creamy floats, their history class researched references to President Roosevelt’s “Winning the West,” and the men attached wires to the poles of the electricity department’s floats.
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After touring the grounds, which consist of 2,000 acres of farmland that produce food, cotton, and livestock, the president’s party was serenaded by the 150-voice Tuskegee Choir in the chapel. Washington then briefly welcomed the guests and expressed the “gratitude felt by the people of Tuskegee Institute and the people of both races of this section of Alabama for the honor” of his visit. Roosevelt then took to the podium.
First, he spoke from the heart. “You will not be as inspired by what I say as I have been inspired by what I have seen here,” he told the students and teachers lined up in front of him. .
“Mr. Washington, to come here and see this great focus of civilization is in itself a liberal education.”
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As he flipped through the notes of his prepared remarks, he read the speech that Washington had criticized and shaped. The speech was a well-known argument for black education. President Roosevelt told the white people, “In the interests of humanity, justice, and self-preservation, every white man in America, wherever he may live, should assist the negro in his efforts to help himself.” He referred to “all forms of unlawful acts” and singled out lynching in particular. He warned the students that “their kind cannot expect to have everything at once.” He pledged harmony, cooperation, and a common destiny as “law-abiding Americans.”
President Roosevelt’s speech may not have surprised anyone, but for the man standing next to him as the applause erupted, his presence alone was a reward. However, Dr. Washington wanted to invite his guests to lunch even though it was noon, but he could not. Both men knew that the immediate and political risks were too great. Washington then escorted the president to the train, which soon left Tuskegee Station. Booker could only accept Theodore’s new promise. “I’ve always supported this system, and now that I’ve seen this system,” he said to everyone, “I’m going to support this system more than ever.”
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If Roosevelt brought sympathy to the plight of America’s black people, Washington responded with even more hope. Together they formed a highly unusual partnership that lasted beyond Roosevelt’s tenure. Although they were unable to reverse generations of racism and racist policies, they challenged the assumptions of their fellow Americans and led to the appointment of black men to positions of power unprecedented in history. Ta. Although their joint victories were limited, Roosevelt’s very public recognition of Washington, however brief and compromising, made him the most important spokesperson for black America of their time. confirmed Washington’s status as a man.
No one is perfect; no friendship is either. But Booker and Theodore were men of virtue who worked together in good faith to meet Lincoln’s ambition for a “more perfect union.” They were the right people for the times, even if their efforts sometimes ended in failure. Even great people make mistakes. But Booker T. and Teddy had a vision. They had a drive. And their skin was strong enough that they were able to press on, often in the face of malicious criticism. We are a better country because they chose to fight. They realize that progress is always a battle and are uncompromising.
This excerpt is “Teddy and Booker T“How Two American Icons Paved the Way to Racial Equality” by Brian Kilmeade. Copyright © 2023 by Brian Kilmeade, with permission from Sentinel, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.
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