Revisiting the Black Parisian Moment: 1918–19

New York National Guard

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A symposium exploring black intellectual thought, military presence and jazz cultures in post-war Paris

Keynote speaker: Minkah Makalani (University of Texas at Austin)
Special guests: Jason Moran and Soweto Kinch

Explore the connections between Black intellectual thought, military presence, and jazz cultures at the critical juncture of Paris in the immediate post-war period. Learn how pan-Africanism, Black nationalism, anti-colonialism and civil rights became embedded in post-war culture, and find out how jazz speaks to otherwise overlooked Black histories.

In 1919 the ‘first’ Pan-African Congress took place in Paris. The Congress took place in a Paris already awakening to Black cultures. Just a year previously, the military band of the African American 369th Infantry Regiment led by James Reese Europe, aka the Harlem Hellfighters, toured French music halls and fought alongside French and African troops. The 369th were welcomed back to the US with a parade from Fifth Avenue to Harlem watched by 250,000 people.  

It was an instance of the renewed determination of African Americans in the fight for equality spurred by the war – as W E B  DuBois proclaimed in an editorial that ran in the May 1919 issue of Crisis: 'We return from fighting. We return fighting. Make way for Democracy!' 

This symposium takes an interdisciplinary approach to reconsider the overlaps taking place in wartime Europe, through the crystalising lens of Paris in the immediate post-war period. It also asks what these histories have meant for future generations of black activists and cultural producers. 

View the full symposium schedule.

Your ticket includes entry to the Jason Moran event that follows.

Sponsored by the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library

Image: The 369th Infantry band in Paris. COL Goldenberg/New York National Guard


Name: Revisiting the Black Parisian Moment: 1918–19
Where: Knowledge Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
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When: -
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546