When tourists visit the city of Paris, many of them flock to major attractions like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and the Mona Lisa. However, what several people may not know is that the city encompasses connections to Black history which the tourism company Black Paris Tours has brought to the forefront, the Philadelphia Tribune reported.
Founded nearly a decade ago by Ricki Stevenson, the tours capture the essence of the Black experience in Paris during the early 20th century, the news outlet writes. Many African American visionaries, including Langston Hughes, Miles Davis, Josephine Baker, and Richard Wright uprooted from the United States and moved to Paris due to the heated racial climate in America. Many of these performers, artists, and writers felt like their work was more appreciated in Europe than at home and believed that Paris afforded them more opportunities to further their careers.
During the 1920s, Black creatives created their own renaissance in Paris. According to the source, when Josephine Baker tried to pursue her dreams of being a dancer in the U.S., she was disparaged due to her skin color. However, when she moved to Paris she quickly rose to fame after performing in La Revue Negre at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees in 1925. Baker’s story is similar to the other narratives of Black creatives who felt oppressed in America and respected in Paris.
Stops along Stevenson’s tour include the Theatre des Champs-Elysees where many Black entertainers performed, an eatery called Cafe Les Deux Magots that writers like Baldwin and Wright frequented, and the jazz club Caveau de la Huchette where musicians like Lionel Hampton played, reports the source.
Although these Black visionaries walked the streets of Paris nearly a century ago, their legacies still live on throughout the city. Many of their images are displayed at the places that they frequented and there are several jazz events held throughout the city that are reminiscent of the early 20th century.
“All you need to know is the history,” said Stevenson, according to the news outlet. “And know where to visit. It’s all here.”