‘A Tempest in a Teapot’

The Racial Politics of First Lady Lou Hoover’s Invitation of Jessie DePriest to a White House Tea

‘A Tempest in a Teapot’

The Racial Politics of First Lady Lou Hoover’s Invitation of Jessie DePriest to a White House Tea

First Lady Lou Hoover’s invitation to Jessie L. DePriest to a White House tea party in 1929 created a storm of protest and indignation. This traditional act of hospitality toward the wife of the first black elected to Congress in the twentieth century created a political crisis for the president and first lady.

This presentation examines the “tempest” from the perspectives of the first lady, the DePriests, and DePriest family descendants.

The story of Oscar and Jessie DePriest highlights the courage and contributions of Oscar Stanton DePriest, the sole black voice in Congress at that time, to the history of the American civil rights struggle and the grace and poise of his wife who ably represented a generation of black women.

First Lady Lou Hoover Encounters Nationwide Controversy →

First Lady Lou Hoover, 1928.
Stock Montage, Harris and Ewing Collection.

Jessie DePriest, 1929. Courtesy of Barbara DePriest.