In 1894 an eighteen-year-old white Texan traveled to a national YMCA student conference in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.1 There he met an African American student, roughly ten years his senior, from the Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts.2 It is very likely this interaction was the first time the former had ever encountered an African American man of such education and stature. In fact, a meeting like this one in the South in this period, and for the coming decades, would have been very unusual considering how segregated that world was. This event was indeed such a striking moment for the younger man that over forty years later he still remembered it. To an acquaintance in the late 1930s he recalled the following about that conference and this man: “I remember that he was rather popular, that he was the only Negro on the grounds and that those of us from the South at the time thought it a little queer that there should be a Negro delegate present.”...
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