Thursday, August 2, 2012

Black Paris Profiles™: Tannie Stovall

Interview conducted, recorded, and transcribed by Ellen Kountz

Tannie Stovall was a pillar of the contemporary African-American community in Paris. A graduate of Morehouse College and the University of Minnesota with degrees in physics (B.S. and Ph.D., respectively), he came to Paris with his family in 1964 to work as a research assistant at the Ecole Normale Supérieure and eventually became an associate professor at the Université de Paris. He began writing fiction in 1967 and continued to pursue this activity throughout his adult life. He and his family moved to Nigeria in 1971, where he worked as a physics professor at the University of Ife. He became disenchanted with the level of corruption he observed in the country and moved back to Paris after two years. As founder of the African-American men’s group “The Brothers,” Tannie sought to provide a welcoming environment and a supportive network for African-American men in Paris, whether they were tourists or residents.

Tannie succumbed to pancreatic cancer in June 2012. Just a few weeks prior to his death, he agreed to grant this interview. Black Paris Profiles™'Ellen Kountz graciously consented to conduct, record, and transcribe it for the Black Paris Profiles™ series.


Tannie Stovall
Photo from The Brothers Web site

ETBP: It’s been a long time since you came here to work as a research assistant at the Ecole Normale Supérieure. Have you kept yourself informed about what is happening in the field of physics since you retired?

TS: I have not however I still subscribe to scientific magazines in English.

ETBP: What advice do you have for blacks in physics (or any other scientific field) who want to work in Paris?

TS: If they are Americans, I’d say they’d be better off remaining in the United States. Opportunities for success are greater back home. This was not the case 50 years ago, because in Europe after a World War everything was destroyed and needed to be rebuilt. The French built up their armament and there was a surge in demand back then.


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CGW said...

Tannie and my father were roommates in graduate school at U Minn in the early 60s. I first met him when I visited Paris in '86. We immediately hit it off. I been telling stories about Stovall ever since. I loved the man. I am so sorry that he is gone.

Corey Washington

About Beauford Delaney said...

Hi Corey,

Thanks for taking the time to comment on Tannie's profile. He was an extraordinary person and is sorely missed in the black Paris expat community.