Calendar Chronicles Paris’s Black History

A new calendar shows that Josephine Baker wasn’t the only African-American to make her mark in Paris.

Posted: 12/19/2011 03:59 PM EST
Filed Under France, Global News

(Photo: Courtesy of Walking the Spirit Tours)

Paris, France is known around the world for its food, music and romantic ambience, but what many may not know is that a group of African-American artists and intellectuals played a role in giving the “City of Lights” the je ne sais quoi it has today.

The Spirit of Black Paris calendar was created by African-American tour operator Julia Browne, who started her company, Walking in the Spirit Tours, after becoming enchanted with Paris’s Black connection in 1994 when she studied with a professor at the storied Sorbonne University in Paris.

Many African-Americans began migrating to France in the 1920s during World War I after Black GI’s stationed in the country found less discrimination among the French than back at home.

Featuring original artwork from Texas native Ealy Mays that evokes the right history of African-Americans in Paris, the calendar provides a strikingly original daily journey to the Paris of African-Americans who found opportunity in France over the past 200 years.

"It was an honor," said Mays, who has lived in Paris since 1996, "to be a part of the first-of-a-kind calendar, and to put my input into such an endeavor."

The calendar project memorializes notable African-American expatriates from Sally Hemings to Richard Wright, and hopes to enlighten Americans of all ages about the rich history of Blacks in Paris.

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