Wednesday, April 06, 2022

"Booker T. was sitting down to eat a chicken sandwich": Booker T. Washington at the White House in Toni Morrison and Scott Joplin

In Toni Morrison's "Jazz" (1992), Joe Trace suddenly decides to move north from rural Virginia to New York City because of a national political event: "If Booker T. was sitting down to eat a chicken sandwich in the President's house in a city called capital, [...] then things must be all right, all right." The dinner in question, when President Theodore Roosevelt invited Booker T. Washington to dinner at the White House, took place on 16 October, 1901; it was significant enough that there is a Wikipedia page about it, which also mentions that the dinner inspired Scott Joplin's his first opera, "A Guest of Honor". Unfortunately, Joplin's score is lost. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 6 April 2022)


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