Registering for ‘Revisiting the Black Parisian Moment’

As part of the events connected to James Reese Europe and the Absence of Ruin, the British Library will be hosting a one-day symposium: ‘Revisiting the Black Parisian Moment: transnational black military, musical and intellectual histories, 1918-19’.

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.

Pan African Congress
A session of the Pan-African Congress. Paris, Februrary 19-22, 1919.
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.
369th Infantry Band
369th Infantry band performing in unknown location in France.
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.

The event is now live on the British Library website, booking opens to members on the 3 September and the general public on 10 September.  Entry is £20 with concessions available, and this also guarantees entry to the evening event with Jason Moran.

See the full ‘Call for Papers‘ for more details.

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