Thursday, October 29, 2015

50th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Visit to Paris

Last weekend, the American Church in Paris celebrated the 50th anniversary of the sermon that Dr. Martin Luther King delivered there.

Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1964
Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs

On October 24, 1965, Dr. King preached at the American Church during a whirlwind two-day visit to Paris that was instigated by the Féderation Protestante de France (FPF), an organization that has connected Protestant churches and associations throughout France for over 100 years. His intervention at the church was facilitated by the Reverend and Mrs. Martin B. Sargent, who invited Dr. and Mrs. King to stay at their apartment during the Kings' visit.

That Sunday morning in October, the church was packed to overflowing and Dr. King's sermon was well received.

Inside the American Church in Paris
© Discover Paris!

Carving of Dr. King on the pulpit at the American Church
Richard Wessel
1984 Basswood
© Discover Paris!

The FPF also invited Dr. King to speak at the Maison de la Mutualité on the evening of October 24, where he delivered a speech about "a Christian movement in a revolutionary age." He spoke in English to a full house and his words were translated into French by pastor Robert Somerville. He was repeatedly interrupted by applause and was given a ovation at the end of his speech. Afterward, he met with the press for interviews in a small room at the conference venue.

A few days later, Dr. King wrote a letter to Pastor Somerville to thank him for that "extremely accurate translation" of his speech.

Maison de la Mutualité
© Discover Paris!

On October 25, Dr. King spent time with French and foreign pastors from across Paris at the Eglise Reformée de l'Annociation in the 16th arrondissement. He was also interviewed by the FPF for a television show called Présence Protestante (Protestant Presence).

During the interview, Dr. King responded to questions about the practicality of non-violence as a strategy against racial oppression, how he thought his movement would succeed in the north compared to the southern U.S., how the French population could become involved in his struggle, and what Jesus Christ represented to him personally. In his response to the third question, he indicated that French people could lend their support by writing letters to the U.S. government and making financial contributions* to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

The interview was televised on November 7, 1965.

*The September 2015 edition of the ACP newsletter, Spire, reports that the FPF collected and donated 6,125 francs to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.


Entrée to Black Paris!™ is a Discover Paris! blog.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Physical Traces of African-American Presence in Paris

The first segment of the Discover Paris! presentation called "Black Paris and the Myth of a Colorblind France" discusses the "physical traces" of the African-American presence in Paris. These consist primarily of street signs and plaques around the city.

Perhaps the best known is the plaque that honors Richard Wright at his 6th arrondissement residence on rue Monsieur le Prince.

Richard Wright plaque
© Discover Paris!

Others that are well known include place Josephine Baker in the 14th arrondissement

Place Josephine Baker
© Discover Paris!

and the Josephine Baker pool in the 13th arrondissement.

Josephine Baker pool
© Discover Paris!

A more recent addition is the restaurant Coretta, named after Coretta Scott King and located next door to the Clichy-Batignolles Martin Luther King, Jr. park in the 17th arrondissement.

Coretta Restaurant
© Discover Paris!

The most recent additions consist of two plaques that commemorate artist Beauford Delaney. Both are located in the 14th arrondissement in Montparnasse - Beauford's "old stomping ground."

The first of these plaques was installed at Hôtel Le M on rue de la Gaïté in June 2015. The hotel now occupies the address of the former restaurant Les Mille Colonnes, where Beauford often took meals with friends.

Beauford Delaney plaque at Hôtel Le M
© Discover Paris!

The second was installed at Hôtel Odessa, the hotel where Beauford took lodging on his second day in Paris.

Beauford Delaney plaque at Hôtel Odessa
© Discover Paris!

Both Le M Hôtel and the Hôtel Odessa anticipate welcoming visitors to the exhibition of original Beauford Delaney works entitled Beauford Delaney and Paris: A Breathtaking Evolution. It will be shown at Reid Hall, Columbia Global Centers | Europe Paris in Montparnasse in February 2016.

To learn more about the exhibition, click HERE.


Entrée to Black Paris!™ is a Discover Paris! blog.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Paris' Black Mayor - Severiano de Heredia

On October 5, 2015, Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo presided over the inauguration ceremony for rue Severiano de Heredia, a new street in the 17th arrondissement that is named after Paris' first black mayor.

Severiano de Heredia
Image in public domain

Severiano de Heredia was born a "free mulatto" in Havana, Cuba in November 1836. He came to Paris with his adoptive mother - a French woman named Madeleine Godefroy - in 1845. His godfather, Ignacio Heredia y Campuzano, undertook responsibility for his education.

Heredia was an excellent student and won the Grand Prize of Honor at the prestigious Louis-le-Grand high school. He went on to become a poet and literary critic.

He inherited his godfather's wealth upon Heredia y Campuzano's death in 1848, married in 1868, and became a French citizen in 1870. Entering into politics, he championed progressive causes such as the separation of church and state, decreasing work hours for children under the age of 12, and universal education.

In 1873, he was was the first person of color to be elected to the Municipal Council of Paris, representing the Ternes district in the 17th arrondissement. After six years in at this post, he was elected president of the Municipal Council - a position that is the equivalent of the mayorship today. He went on to be elected Deputy, representing the 17th arrondissement in the Assemblée Nationale in 1881, and to serve as Minister of Public Works under Prime Minister Maurice Rouvier for a brief period in 1887. He ended his public service as Deputy in 1889.

Heredia was also a Freemason, rising to the top ranks of his lodge.

He died at his home in 1901 and was buried at the Batignolles Cemetery. His grave is located in Division 8, Line 1, Number 39. According to his biographer, Paul Estrade*, five orators delivered speeches at his funeral. The foreign diplomatic corps was represented by Haiti for the occasion.

Severiano de Heredia book cover

Rue Severiano de Heredia runs parallel to boulevard Pereire and links rue de Saussure and rue Marie-Georges Picquart in the new Clichy-Batignolles quarter in the 17th arrondissement. Among those present at last week's inauguration ceremony were Overseas Minister George Pau-Langevin, Cuban ambassador Héctor Igarza, and biographer Paul Estrade.

*Severiano de Heredia. Ce mulâtre cubain que Paris fit maire, et la République, ministre by Paul Estrade. Les Indes savantes, 2011.


Entrée to Black Paris!™ is a Discover Paris! blog.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Chef Loïc Dablé Brings Afro-fusion Cuisine to the Musée Dapper

Contemporary African cuisine is now being served on weekends at the Dapper Museum!

Chef Loïc Dablé of Star Chef fame is at the helm of the newest iteration of the Café Dapper, which opened its doors on October 2.

Chef Loïc Dablé

Through the new restaurant and his numerous other culinary activities, Chef Dablé proposes to create a new definition of African cuisine. He has created menus for lunch, dinner, and brunch, as well as several à la carte offerings for the restaurant.

A graduate of the Ecole de Paris des Métiers de la table, du tourisme, et de l'hôtellerie (Paris School of Culinary, Tourism, and Hotel Management Professions), Dablé has been called the creator of "Afrofusion" - an ingenious mix of African and Western flavors. Prior to taking over the kitchen at the Dapper Museum, he worked at restaurants in London and Ibiza as well as at Apicius, one of Paris' finest dining establishments.

In a recent announcement distributed by the museum, Chef Dablé shared the following (translated from French):

Cooking, an expression of my creativity that I cherish as much as painting, allows me to share the palette of flavors that define my culinary journey. In this magnificent setting, I humbly offer a contemporary view on African cuisine... exploring forgotten or unknown traditions and (re) discovering masterpieces from Africa. Often limited to a gustatory art, cuisine is also an art of living and sharing.

A thirty-something Franco-Ivorian, Chef Dablé hails from the Paris region. His first Sassand'Art menu dégustation (tasting menu), served at the café on opening night, consisted of novel creations such as gravlax attiéké (cured salmon and manioc), risotto poulet fumé (risotto and smoked chicken), and panacotta bissap (panna cotta with hibiscus). The name "Sassand'Art is inspired by the Sassandra-Marahoué district of the Ivory Coast.

The current exhibition at the Musée Dapper, Chefs d'Oeuvre d'Afrique, and the Café Dapper provide the perfect opportunity for an Art and Food Pairing™. I'll bring you one soon!

Café Dapper Loïc Dablé
35 bis, rue Paul Valery
75116 Paris
Téléphone: 06 95 85 24 87

Open 11:00 AM to - 11:00 PM Friday through Sunday


Entrée to Black Paris!™ is a Discover Paris! blog.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Black Expats in Paris: A Successful Meetup Group - Part 2

Black Expats in Paris is a hugely popular Meetup group that was founded in February 2013 as a means of connecting expatriates of African descent. It is the brainchild of Chicagoan Keenya Hofmaier, a mixed-race woman of German and African-American ancestry. After getting the group off to a solid start, Keenya handed the reins over to group member Bintou Murielle. Bintou subsequently assembled a group of four persons to help her organize events, one of whom is Ebonee Harden.

Ebonee granted Discover Paris! an exclusive interview, allowing us to "peek behind the curtain" and see what makes Black Expats in Paris so successful. Part 2 focuses on some of the group's special interests and a spin-off Meetup group.

Fête National Picnic at Champs de Mars - Ebonee (left) and Abbey (right)
Image courtesy of Black Expats in Paris 2015

DP!: You have different clubs under the Black Expats in Paris umbrella. For example, there’s the African Diaspora Culinary Club. When did you launch this and why?

EH: As someone who has studied African Diaspora culture in college, whose parents were members of the Black Panther party, who is an active member of an historically African-American sorority, and whose little sister is at UC Berkeley earning a Ph.D in African Diaspora studies, I found it odd that the group activities weren’t more focused on enjoying the different cultural aspects of the diaspora like music, food, art, etc. As a self-proclaimed Foodie, I thought food was an easy way to share the diversity of African Diaspora cuisine across the world.

So far, this "club" has been really successful, with 10-15 people joining us monthly to share a meal. We launched it with a 4th of July picnic and over 25 people came! Everyone brought something that represented their culture and it was such a lovely experience to see the diversity and the similarities between our respective cultural dishes.

African Diaspora Culinary Club Picnic: 4th of July
From left to right: Rita, Mohammed, Bintou, Diane, Kehryse, Ola,
Adia, Megan, Ebonee, Abbey, Galem, and Michelle
Image courtesy of Black Expats in Paris 2015

DP!: What kinds of things does the Culinary Club do?

EH: The Culinary Club isn’t really a club, per se. It’s just a bi-monthly gathering to share cuisine from the African Diaspora. However, the last dinner of the year will be a Thanksgiving Dinner hosted in November, which will focus on African-American Thanksgiving culinary traditions.

As of 2016, the African Diaspora Culinary Club will be hosted in a new Meetup group called “La Vie en Black: An AfroDiasporique Experience.” This group will have an accompanying Website and Facebook group to foster cross-cultural exchange across the African Diaspora in Paris through events like the “African Diaspora Culinary Club” and “Black People Who Brunch Club.” In addition, the group will focus on having group members host their own events, share important information (i.e. where to get hair products, Black medical doctors in Paris, etc.), and connect activity partners like those looking for someone to travel with, etc.

The new group is still in the works and many of the new group’s leaders, like myself, will still be active with Black Expats of Paris. However, Black Expats of Paris has a very particular focus and vision and I believe moving the African Diaspora Culinary Club to a different group will make more sense.

DP!: What are some of the other clubs in Black Expats in Paris? When did you launch them and why?

EH: The only other club is “Brunch Club,” which is the also hosted by me. While living in New York for 4 years, I became an avid bruncher and when I first came to Paris, I was disappointed to find that brunching wasn’t such a big thing here. Moreover, when I did find a place that offered brunch, the cost was astronomical and the offerings left much to be desired.

In addition, I hated being the only Black person at brunch and so I started the club to have people to go to brunch with. It’s been super successful, with a bevy of women from all over the diaspora coming out to brunch on a monthly basis. The last “Brunch Club” of the year will be in October (see the Meetup group for more information).

In 2016, like the “African Diaspora Culinary Club,” the monthly brunch events will be hosted by “La Vie en Black: An Afro-diasporique Experience.”

DP!: What do you most appreciate about Black Expats in Paris?

EH: I appreciate the opportunity to connect with people who look like me. It’s something many people can take for granted, but it’s so comforting to be in a part of a group where my normal i.e. what I eat, how I do my hair, etc. is their normal too. And, even when there are major differences like language, religion, or politics, there is something about common ancestry that allows us to be fully present in understanding and overcoming these differences.

As a Black American who was raised being very active in my local Black community, it was a shock to come to Paris and not have Black women and men to connect with via church, social organizations, etc. Black Expats in Paris has been a gateway to bridging that gap for myself and many others who either grew up as part of a thriving Black community or who yearn to have the experience.

Most importantly, I believe my new Meetup group, “La Vie en Black: An Afro-diasporique Experience,” will go even further in this area of community building by allowing people to connect by interests, hosting travel opportunities together, and even co-hosting events with other local “Black” meet-up groups.

End of Summer Drinks - Judith (looking at the camera)
Image courtesy of Black Expats in Paris 2015

DP!: Are there any criteria for membership?

EH: Yes, be a human who loves and appreciates (and never appropriates) Black/African culture.

DP!: Tell us where people can find you on line.

EH: Black Expats in Paris can be found at

And as of 2016, ““La Vie en Black: An Afro-diasporique Experience,” can be found on Meetup, Facebook, Twitter and on the Website:

DP!: Any last thoughts?

EH: If you would like to be a member, host events, or sponsor these two meetups, then please contact me, Ebonee Harden, at . Both groups need all the help, love, and support we can get!

To read Part 1 of this article, click HERE.


Entrée to Black Paris!™ is a Discover Paris! blog.