2008-11-07

Black Butler in the White House

I liked this report in the Washington Post, which traces the biography of Eugene Allen, who served as a butler in the White House for 34 years:

A Butler Well Served by This Election

Here's a short excerpt:
He saw eight presidential administrations come and go, often working six days a week. "I never missed a day of work," Allen says.

His is a story from the back pages of history. A figure in the tiniest of print. The man in the kitchen.

He was there while America's racial history was being remade: Brown v. Board of Education, the Little Rock school crisis, the 1963 March on Washington, the cities burning, the civil rights bills, the assassinations.

When he started at the White House in 1952, he couldn't even use the public restrooms when he ventured back to his native Virginia. "We had never had anything," Allen, 89, recalls of black America at the time. "I was always hoping things would get better."

In its long history, the White House -- just note the name -- has had a complex and vexing relationship with black Americans.


Don't forget to click on "Next" at the bottom ... the article has five pages.

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