National Underground Railroad Freedom Center To Host Author Harry Lembeek Lecture

. October 11, 2016

CINCINNATI, OH – The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center will host retired attorney and Theodore Roosevelt historian Harry Lembeck Tuesday, November 1 at 6 p.m., where he will discuss his latest work, Taking on Theodore Roosevelt: How One Senator Defied The President on Brownsville and Shook American Politics. Lembeck’s lecture is the third lecture in the John & Francie Pepper Freedom Lecture Series—a series connecting the public with award-winning authors, historians and thought-leaders, discussing themes on history, race, culture and modern abolition. Cincy Magazine is the print media sponsor for the 2016-2017 series. The lecture is free open to the public. RSVPs are requested.

Taking on Theodore Roosevelt: How One Senator Defied The President on Brownsville and Shook American Politics discusses the 1906 Brownsville Affair—a racial incident that grew out of tensions between whites in Brownsville, Texas and black infantrymen stationed at nearby Fort Brown. The infantrymen had been subjected to racial discrimination since they arrived. A shooting incident in town on the night of August 13 left a white bartender dead and a police officer wounded. Although white commanders at Fort Brown affirmed that all black soldiers were in their barracks at the time of the shooting, local whites claimed that black soldiers had been seen firing. They produced spent shells from army rifles to allegedly support their statements. Despite evidence that indicated the shells had been planted, investigators accepted the statements of the white community.

Using primary sources to reconstruct the events, Lembeck begins at the end when Senator Joseph Foraker is honored by the black community in Washington DC, for his efforts to reverse Roosevelt’s decision. Lembeck highlights Foraker’s courageous resistance to his own president. In addition, he examines the larger context of racism in the era of Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois, pointing out that Roosevelt treated discrimination against the Japanese in the West much differently. He also notes often-ignored evidence concerning the role of Roosevelt’s illegitimate cousin in the president’s decision, the possibility that Foraker and Roosevelt had discussed a compromise, and other hitherto overlooked facts about the case.

“We’re looking forward to the conversation that Harry Lembeck’s lecture will bring,” says Dr. Michael Battle, executive vice president and provost of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. “His work as a historian coupled with his background in law has helped to shape our understanding of how decisions are made in the court of law and how the court of public opinion can affect positive change decades later.”

The John & Francie Pepper Freedom Lecture Series with Harry Lembeck at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center begins Tuesday, November 1 with a pubic reception at 6 p.m. followed by the lecture. Cincy Magazine is the print media sponsor for the 2016-2017 series. The lecture is free open to the public. RSVPs are requested. For more information and to RSVP visit freedomcenter.org

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