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
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
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.
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.