Explore African-American Paris History Through Video

Your holiday shopping is likely done, but any true red-white-and-blue Francophile will appreciate the newest DVD from Paris-based Blue Lion Films as an anytime gift. The DVD is called When African Americans Came to Paris and it’s an incredible collection of six short videos that capture aspects of Black Americans’ presence in Paris during the early 20th century.

Produced by award-winning documentarian Joanne Burke, her writer/cameraman husband David Burke, and Walking the Spirit Tours CEO and Founder Julia Browne, the videos’ period music, black-and-white historical images, and sharp commentary offers a glimpse of Parisian life you don’t see described every day.

Each video is between just four and seven minutes long, but the husband-and-wife team — whose walking-and-bus tours of current-day Paris bring African-American history vividly to life — managed to pack some seriously strong content into each one. The stories they tell are incredible, and many are barely known.

From legendary scholar and NAACP Co-Founder W.E.B. DuBois and his prize-winning exhibit at the 1900 Paris Exposition to the musical World War I soldiers known as the “Harlem Hellfighters” to the jazz explosion of the 1920s, these videos cover it all — and then some. Read more about my take on these six stand-alone videos, and why this DVD needs to be in the collection of folks who are fascinated by all things French.


About Maureen Jenkins

Maureen Jenkins is a food/travel writer and communications professional who's visited nearly 35 countries and territories, lived in Florence, Italy, and recently spent a year living in a charming village near Paris, France. The self-proclaimed 'urban travel girl' talks travel, food and wine – abroad and in Chicago – in "TCW Travel Connection.” Read more of her thoughts on living globally at UrbanTravelGirl.com.