|From left to right: Christiane Taubira, George Pau-Langevin, Victorin Lurel|
The line-up. Christiane Taubira, from French Guiana, is the new Minister of Justice. George Pau-Langevin from Guadeloupe, a member of Parliament representing Paris, is named junior Minister for Educational success. And Victorin Lurel, also from Guadeloupe, is the new Minister in charge of overseas departments. He succeeds Marie-Luce Penchard, who was also from Guadeloupe.
Although Taubira is not the first black Minister in France, with her appointment as Minister of Justice she can be seen as being the first black person in France to hold such an important cabinet position. Responding to the question that this cabinet has a lot of diversity, Taubira replied that it also includes the diversity of political, professional and social experiences.
Taubira, who is on the left of the Socialist Party, served as a deputy at the French National Assembly since 1993. She is also the author of a law, now called "Loi Taubira,” voted by the French Assembly in 2001, which recognizes the slave trade and slavery as crimes against humanity.
France has made a giant step forward, but the road wasn’t easy. After the ethnic urban riots in 2005 and the violent strikes on the island of Guadeloupe in 2009 it became clear the country lacked diversity in every major institution. To ease the tension, the first black Minister Rama Yade was appointed in 2007. Yade, originally from Senegal, became a junior Minister in the Zarkosy government. In the same year there was a little uproar when black news anchor Harry Roselmack read the news on of France's largest television networks. His appearance was a result of ‘diversity’ talks between the networks and the government. And after the riots in Guadeloupe in 2009 the French Prime Minister quickly installed the first black Minister of the overseas departments, Marie-Luce Penchard, in an attempt to deescalate the conflict.
The biggest difference between the two previous Ministers is that new appointed Ministers are seasoned and well known politicians. With three black cabinet Ministers the French national motto liberté, égalité, fraternité is now enriched with the word that has been shouted in streets of Paris since 2005, 'diversité'. Viva la France!
List of Black Cabinet members in Europe
1902-1905 : Abraham George Ellis (The Netherlands) - from Suriname, Minister of Navy.
2001 – 2002 : Paul Boateng (UK) - from the UK, Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
2002 : Philomena Bijlhout (The Netherlands) - from Suriname, under Secretary of Emancipation (2 hours).
2003 : Baroness Valerie Amos (UK) - from Guyana, Secretary of State for International Development
2006 to 2010 : Nyamko Sabuni (Norway) - from Congo, Minister for Integration and Gender Equality.
2007 : Manuela Ramin-Osmundsen (Sweden) - from Martinique, Minister for Children and Equality (only 4 months).
2007 - 2010 : Rama Yade (France) - from Senegal, started as Secretary of State for Human Rights.
2009 - 2012 : Marie-Luce Penchard (France) - from Guadeloupe, Secretary of State for Overseas Territories.
2012 - : Christiane Taubira (France) - from French Guiana, Minister of Justice.
2012 - : George Pau-Langevin (France) - from Guadeloupe, junior Minister for Educational success.
2012 - : Victorin Lurel (France) - from Guadeloupe, Minister of overseas departments.
2012 - : Helen Grant (UK) - From the UK, under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice and for women’s and equality issues.
Check the entire and correct list of Black Cabinet members in Europe here.