What is the black legacy of Paris? Is there some reason Blacks ought to go there either as a place to vacation or as an expatriate destination?
The answer is yes.
The French have a legacy of accepting the disenfranchised regardless of the cause of that disenfranchisement. It makes the French a special people, and Paris a special place.
The French were the first European power to recognize the value of Jazz, Tango, pre-Columbian art as a channel to modern art, and for a long time Paris was the center of the cultural world. They accepted, and protected artists that had been thrown out of other nations; such as Picasso from Spain, Kandinski from Russia and numerous other exiled artists, among whom were many who were not so much political exiles as they were cultural exiles fleeing from nations that rejected them because they were different, because of their talent or because or their individuality. Shallow, ignorant nations like the United States crushed art rather than celebrating it, and anyone who was a true artist had to leave the USA or lose their creativity. Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrud Stein, Samuel Beckett, James Joyce, F. Scott Fitzgerald and others fled the USA and the UK, for the more creative atmosphere of Paris. But the French accepted and protected more than just white artists; the French for over one hundred years have welcomed, protected and encouraged black artists. It is a record of acceptance and respect for artists and exiled people that is unequaled in the twentieth century. It is clear that many great black artists would never have succeeded in their artistic struggles without the special place that is Paris.
James Baldwin, (seen above) the eldest of nine children, was born in Harlem in New York City in 1924. His father was a preacher, and as a teenager Baldwin was active in a small revivalist church, an experience which served as inspiration for his first novel. After graduating from high school Baldwin worked in a series of menial jobs, but was determined to become a writer. For a black in the 1940's the perspective of becoming a published writer were next to zero.
In 1948 Baldwin moved to Paris where he joined a group of black writers and artists that included Chester Himes, Richard Wright and Ollie Harrington. His first novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain (1953), concerned a young boy coming to terms with the religious beliefs of his father. His second novel, Giovanni's Room (1956) is an account of an American living in Paris. It is thanks to Paris that the genius of Baldwin's writing managed to be recognized.
Paris has always welcomed artists, and blacks to a large degree have always felt at home in Paris. The number of black artists who have lived in Paris reads like a who's who of some of the worlds best black artists. But Paris has welcomed all artists regardless of race or political persuation. The Parisians were the first to recognize the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges, and they did so even before he was recognized in Buenos Aires. When jazz trumpet player Chet Baker died all of the jazz clubs in Paris shut down for 24 hours... Chet's death wasn't even reported in the American papers.
|The Black Artists, Musicians & Writers Who Called Paris Home Reads Like A Who's Who Of Creative Genius
Yet while Paris has a proud traditon of openess and tolerance; there has never been a guide book for blacks on how to navigate the labyrinth that is Paris. Melinda Herron, the author of The Insider Guide To Black Paris has done something about that. If, as Ms. Herron says, Paris is the cultural hub for English-speaking Blacks Africans, African-Americans, West Indians, Blacks from the UK and Canada then it is important for Blacks to understand what Paris has to offer.
When Melinda Herron first came to Paris twenty years ago, she wanted to know where the Black hair salons were, where you could go to listen to Black music, where you could buy foods like sweet potatoes, corn meal and black-eyed peas. Even though she thoroughly enjoyed Paris and all it had to offer culturally, it was essential somehow to get a taste and feel for "back home." So, just like many sojourners who arrive in a new city, it became important for her to connect with other Blacks in order to transform that feeling for community in a living reality.
After years of research, and originally with a fellow expatriate, Melinda produced a paper reference guide for tourists, students and long-term residents. From that first effort, and with many additional months of research and updating, Insider Paris Guides is proud to offer this new, electronic guide of Black Paris listings throughout Paris and nearby suburbs. The Insider Guide to Black Paris brings you vital and interesting information about what there is to see and do in Paris from and for this very active black community. This guide will help you make the right decisions about your stay here, plus it is simply a great resource for getting around the multicultural sites of Paris.
Order the electronic downloaded version and be reading about Black Paris within moments! Order it as a Word document (rtf file), PDF file or in plain text. Download it directly from our site with a password we will provide. The guide prints to approximately 45 US 8 ½ X 11 pages or European A4 pages. With a Microsoft Word document it can be formatted and printed as you wish.
Electronic guides offer many advantages over traditionally printed guides -
Guides are written by Paris-based American journalists and writers who know what information you're looking for and know how to find it, from the inside. Guides are updated regularly, so it is impossible to get such up-to-date information anywhere else. Printed books take at least 6 months to reach the bookstore shelf! Order the electronic downloaded versions of the guides and read about Paris moments after! No need to wait for your order to be mailed, and no trip to the bookstore.
Melinda Herron was born in Chicago, but spent her childhood and early teens in Kingston, Jamaica and Monrovia, Liberia, where her father worked in the foreign service. She returned to the U.S for her junior and senior years in high school (Massachusetts), college (Pennsylvania) and graduate school (Vermont).Her Master's degree in teaching ESL helped her find work at a language school when she arrived in Paris twenty years ago, but by the late 80s she had switched to freelance translation.Today she holds an in-house corporate translation position but still freelances for television post-production companies.
| This is the first guide of its kind, totally devoted to the Black community in Paris
- History: Paris and People of Color.
- Dining Out: Glossary of Terms, Restaurants -- Carribbean, African, African American.
- Nightlife: Dance Clubs, Jazz Clubs, Bars, Theater, Movies, Video Rentals.
- Shopping: Gifts, Art, Artifacts, Fabrics, Books, Clothing, Music, Food, Outdoor Markets, Gourmet Products.
- Travel: U.S. Travel Agents, Tourist Bureaus, Transportation.
- Education, Classes, Tours: Dance, Tours, Wine Tasting.
- Events: Year Round, Monthly.
- Hair and Beauty: Salons, Total
- Body Care, Health and Beauty Products, Glossary of Terms.
- Businesses and Services.
- Places of Worship.
- Media: Publications, Radio Stations, Television Stations.
- Resources : Internet and Print Publications.
- About the Author(s)