Now little-known or forgotten, sharing a cup of tea was an important catalyst for building the friendships, sense of community empowerment, determination toward independence and freedom, and organizing space that fueled both the Black Civil Rights Movement and the struggle for Women's Rights.
Black Tea Houses -This short video reviews the history of teahouses owned by Blacks and the historic role of tea in African-American culture.
Mirroring History: What's the Tea? Stirring Up Black Activism - When laws denied African Americans access to public spaces where they might meet to organize against slavery or for equal rights, they turned to black-owned spaces—churches, schools, homes, and their own businesses—to organize for justice. The National Museum of African American History and Culture created this online exhibit to show how serving tea in at home, allowed blacks to meet with prominent abolitionists with less fear of violent retribution.
African American Tea Rooms - Black women, and men, created their own tea rooms because, even in states where Jim Crow policies were not enacted into law, it was common for white-run tea rooms and restaurants to refuse service to Blacks. Starting a business was also an entrepreneurial strategy for personal and community improvement.
The Feminist History of Tea Rooms - While women in western cultures think nothing of dining out without a man now, tea rooms played a major role in bringing about that change. They also became hotbeds for women seeking systematic social and political change. Note: As you read this article, don't miss the slideshow showing many of the teahouses.
White House Picketing and Hot Tea in 1917 - This short video tells the story of women's rights activists taking their cause to the streets around the White House and the celebrated teahouse--The Grated Door--that was their headquarters.
Tearoom Revolution: The Weapon of Women’s Rights and Entrepreneurship - The tearoom was core to the Women’s Rights movements of the 1860s-1920s, in the U.S. and British Empire. It formed the base for a political revolution of extraordinary honor, tenacity, and character.
Taking Tea and Talking Politics: The Role of Tearooms - In the early 20th century women were moving around cities more freely but still lacked a space where they could take refreshment. In filling that gap, tearooms also provided a sheltering space for suffragettes.
Spilling the Tea: Women and the Social History of Tea in Britain - In Britain, tea played a powerful role in fostering greater economic and social independence for women, and became a focal center for those working for women's rights.
"Suffragettes and Tea Parties." Evening Telegraph, 18 Feb. 1908