Before Starbucks, Black People Revolutionized Coffee Shops

black woman drinking coffee in white ceramic mug
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Adé Hennis
January 17, 2024

As the coffee was brewing inside coffee shops, racial tension percolated outside. That’s because civil rights activists in the 1960s were concocting sit-in movements that were much stronger than shots of espresso.

We strategically used coffee shops as a way to protest civil injustices, because many wouldn't serve Black people. Sit-ins at coffee shops and lunch counters were a common form of nonviolent protest and gave rise to the Civil Rights Movement.

Later on, jazz and blues artists performed in coffee shops and they evolved into cultural hubs, providing safe environments for Black artists and intellectuals.

Today, we have Black-owned coffee houses across the country. They are evidence of our collective power.

This transformation is a testament to the resilience and creativity of the Black community, turning spaces that were once sites of protest and pain into places of celebration and cultural expression.

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