Did Bell Endorse Racial Segregation?

​No. Bell was a strong and early believer in equal rights. In 1876, Bell hired draftsman Lewis Howard Latimar, the son of a former slave, to execute his drawings and assist in the preparation of patent applications for Dr. Bell’s telephone. In 1904, Bell wrote a letter to then U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt calling for a State Department investigation into the “protection to colored citizens of the United States in Canada.”

The letter was prompted by the poor treatment Bell’s employee, Mr. Charles Thompson, received while traveling to Bell’s estate on Cape Breton Island, Canada. Thompson, a Black man, and his wife had been denied accommodations at multiple hotels in Sydney, a port city on the Island.

In the letter, Bell notes that Thompson “is an upright, conscientious man whom I have the highest confidence. He has traveled with me in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, France, Italy and Great Britain, as well as in Japan and the Hawaiian Islands, and never outside of his own country has he been discriminated against on account of his color except in Sydney, Cape Breton Island.”

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