Black History Month in Paris
Black History Month is each February. This year 2019 is particularly poignant as it marks the 400th anniversary of the beginning of slavery in America. Although France is certainly not without racism quite a number of Black Americans found their place in France and Paris. A few of this community include: these three women to whom we offer hommage.
The story of Bessie Coleman, who made history by coming to France to earn her pilot’s license in 1921 when no America flight school would admit a black woman, is inspiring. Coleman had heard about an aviation school at Le Crotoy in France. Focusing on her dream while working at a beauty salon in Chicago by day, she would study French at night. When race riots broke out in Chicago, Bessie Coleman made up her mind to use her small savings to cross the Atlantic and set up in the fishing village on the Somme Bay. There is a street named for her in Paris 20th. Read her story as told by the journalist Christelle Gérard at France-Amérique. https://france-amerique.com/en/bessie-coleman-black-wings-over-france/ French writer Jacques Béal wrote her biography, L’Ange Noir (The Black Angel) in 2008
Afro American History Tours in Paris and blog Entrée to Black Paris
Monique Wells, travel writer and editor, has been offering walking tours (both guided and downloadable self-guided) of Paris with a black American and African diaspora themes since 1999. Her blog where you can learn more about the tours is https://www.entreetoblackparis.com/
#ExploreParis also offers walking tours in English about black culture in Paris. These tours make the link between the Parisian black culture of the past and the one of today on the Left Bank and in the Goutte d’Or. We also heard that the guide is preparing another visit specifically about James Baldwin. Find out more on their website : Visits of Le Paris Noir.
Patricia Laplante-Collins, originally from Atlanta, passed away in Paris early in 2019. Well known in the American community in Paris for a quarter century at least Patricia started her soirées in the late 1990s as the “African American Literary Soirées.” Over the years they became simply “Paris Soirées” and evenings featured Literary, Art, New Age, Business, African- American and Black Paris themes in intimate salon atmosphere. They were attended by newcomers and old timers alike. People from all nationalities and walks of life found new jobs and careers and made new friends through Patricia’s network. Condolences may be posted on her Facebook page.
America: De la Race en Amérique
Found on newstands the current edition of the quarterly mook (book/magazine) America focuses on Race in America. This issue is composed of pieces by American and other writers talking about race for French readers. It is 90% in French. The writers include lots of well-known authors such as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (a Nigerian who states that she never felt black before she went to the United States), Richard Ford, Russell Banks and others. There is also a previously unpublished text by James Baldwin who spent most of this life in Paris and several pieces about slavery including the first hand story of a man brought to America as a slave on the Clothilde, the last slave ship. Some interesting perspective. Lancé par François Busnel, présentateur de La Grande Librairie (France 5), et Éric Fottorino, ce mook raconte l’Amérique à hauteur d’homme et sans préjugés : sa beauté, mais aussi ses failles et ses fêlures. Chaque trimestre, les plus grands écrivains français et américains sont invités à devenir les mémorialistes d’une époque hors-normes. Also available by subscription: https://www.america-mag.com