Daniel Murray was appointed assistant librarian at the Library of Congress in 1871, but later demoted as the Jim Crow era began.

Daniel Murray was appointed assistant librarian at the Library of Congress in 1871, but later demoted as the Jim Crow era began.

“The curse of prejudice is the hand-maid of ignorance,” said Daniel Murray.

Murray was assistant librarian at the Library of Congress in the late 19th century. He was also a member of the Black Elite, an exclusive group of educated, accomplished, and refined African Americans in and around Washington D.C. that formed after the Civil War

Murray dedicated years of his life curating a list of 1,600 books and pamphlets by Black Americans to prove that blacks were worthy of full citizenship. Murray swiftly ascended the Washington social scene, but he was all but too soon shot down — demoted from his title and given less pay — as Reconstruction ended and the Jim Crow era set in.

Author Elizabeth Dowling Taylor’s new book The Original Black Elite: Daniel Murray and the Story of a Forgotten Era tells Murray’s story, and in doing so, traces the rise and fall of the elite class in America.

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  • Elizabeth Dowling Taylor Author of 'A Slave in the White House' and 'The Original Black Elite.'

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