May 25, 2007
The Dinner Party
Tonight, five of history’s most compelling and opinionated men and women will
sit down for dinner to discuss the changes in American society in the post-World War
Two era. Joining me will be Booker T. Washington, Andrew Carnegie, William Levitt,
Joe McCarthy and Rachel Carson and, due to their diverse tastes, each has been asked to
bring a dish for the party.
William Levitt is the first to arrive, bringing TV dinners comprised of identical
amounts of turkey, mashed potatoes, and corn- all heated thanks to Levitt’s Sears oven,
which came equipped in his house. Booker T. Washington follows Levitt, bringing a
simple dish for appetizers and gradually progressing to integrate more complex foods.
Rachel Carson is next to arrive, bringing fresh vegetables all, of course, chemical-free.
Joe McCarthy brings hotdogs and apple pie, and scowls at the baklava I’ve made for
dessert. Andrew Carnegie comes last, explaining that work kept him late. He brings a
feast, all prepared by his servants, but asks that the leftovers be donated to charity.
The guests are seated and the conversation begins.
Thank you all for coming. I’m sure you all have such fascinating insights into the
state of the post-World War Two society, so I’d like to begin by asking you, Booker T.
Washington, what you think of the progress American society has made in regards to
social issues, specifically racism.
Booker T. Washington:
Well, I have always believed that change cannot happen
overnight. We cannot expect white people to accept African Americans right away after
centuries of seeing them as inferior. I believe it requires a shift in the way society thinks-
the basic ideals we teach our children need to be changed, but this shift will take time. I
don’t believe our society is, by any means, free of racism. But racism’s demise has been
much as I’ve said: a gradual shift using less aggressive means.