On a bright New Year's day in 1903 Booker T. Washington and his White secretary Max Thrasher arrived in Los Angeles by train from Alabama. This would be Washington's first visit to the far West where the atmosphere was nowhere near the racially charged environment of the Deep South.
The most significant event in the history of African American education came from the pattern fashioned by Booker Taliaferro. His last name, Washington, was added on the spur of the moment when he went to a little elementary school and found he needed a surname.
The Negro protest around the turn of the 20th century moved in two directions -- toward separation and toward integration. Many critics of Booker T. Washington, associating him with advocating separatism, said Blacks cannot achieve political or economic power in isolation.
After the 1896 U.S. Supreme Court's "Separate but equal" Plessy vs. Ferguson decision, legal segregation became an American institution in the form of "separate but unequal." Inequality, the Siamese twin of injustice, had Tennessee as the leader of Jim Crow laws. All over the South "White" and "colored" signs went up.