A Witness to History, He Served 36 years in the White House
For more than three decades Eugene Allen worked in the White House, a black man unknown to the headlines. During some of those years, harsh segregation laws lay upon the land.
Mr. Eugene Allen served as butler in the White House under eight administrations, beginning in 1952, serving during the end of President Harry S. Truman's presidency.
From the article:
In the mid-1950s invitations to the White House were still fraught with racial subtext. When the Daughters of the American Revolution refused to allow pianist Hazel Scott to perform at Constitution Hall because of her race, many letters poured into the White House decrying the DAR's position. First lady Bess Truman was a member of the organisation, but made no effort to get the DAR to alter its policy.
Mr. Allen retired in 1986 after 34 years of service at the White House.
He cast his vote for Barack Obama on Tuesday, November 4, 2008.
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Mr. Eugene Allen passed away Wednesday, March 31, 2010.
Eugene Allen, a White House butler who served presidents from Harry Truman through Ronald Reagan, has died. He was 90.
Allen died of renal failure Wednesday at a hospital in Takoma Park, Md., The Washington Post reported Friday.
Allen, who was black, started at the White House in 1952, when racial segregation prohibited him from using public restrooms in his native state of Virginia. When he left the White House in 1986 after 34 years, he had witnessed not only defining moments in the country's history, but also in America's civil rights movement.
And on Jan. 20, 2009, he watched Barack Obama being sworn in as the nation's first black president.
"I never would have believed it," Allen told the Post from his seat at the inauguration. "In the 1940s and 1950s, there were so many things in America you just couldn't do. You wouldn't even dream that you could dream of a moment like this."