This History Heights eBook is the important story of when President Theodore Roosevelt invited his friend and advisor Booker T. Washington to dinner at the White House. Neither one of them expected the fallout that followed. Composer Scott Joplin has an important (and surprising!) role in the story, too.
When studying history in school, I presumed events happened in a neat and orderly fashion, just as they were presented in the textbooks. Turn the page, and read about something. Turn the page, and read about what happened next. History, I thought, was a simple and direct parade of one thing following another. I was wrong. In reality, history is a web of interconnected stories of people, places, and events, and when I finally realized this truth, it was then I discovered the fun of history.
A couple of years ago, I was doing research for a book about American composer Scott Joplin.
One of the chapters is called “Politics, Ragtime, and Opera.” That chapter briefly talks about the time in 1901 when President Theodore Roosevelt hosted his advisor, Booker T. Washington, for dinner at the White House. It was the first time a person of color was an invited dinner guest at the White House, and the event sparked a lot of controversies.
So what does this have to do with my research on Scott Joplin? Joplin was inspired by the event to write an opera entitled, “A Guest of Honor.” The Joplin story is full of twists and turns, too, but we’ll leave that part of his story for another day.
My point is this: I’m very sad to say that until researching Scott Joplin, I never had heard of the incredibly important event of that White House dinner. It is the interconnectedness of the stories of history that bring us to a better understanding of what really has happened in the past.
It became obvious to me that the event that inspired Joplin needed more depth than just a couple of pages in The Strenuous Life of Scott Joplin, and for that reason, the History Heights featured eBook for July 2022 is The Story of A Guest of Honor.
Learn more about the History Heights eBook in this video eBook Quick Look.
There’s a Daily Story video about this event, too.