Video: "Noirs de France" ("Blacks of France”) - The history of Black people in France

The French documentary "Noir de France" ("Blacks of France”) is a new documentary of the history of black people in France. It's based on the book "La France Noir" of French historian Pascal Blanchard. 

The documentary is aired on France 5 in 3 episodes and will be will be available on DVD on 20 February 2012. A traveling exhibition is also on the program.

The trailer of the original French documentary

The people in the video (in order of appearance)
- Claudy Siar (Radio station owner and host)
- Audry Pulvar (first black TV anchor woman)
- Senegalese Tirailleurs (soldiers of the French colonies)
- Aimé Césaire (late poet, author and politician from Martinique)
- Rokhaya Diallo (journalist, author and film-maker) in red dress
- Yannick Noah (winner tennis tournament at Roland Garros)
- Christiane Taubira (French politician)
- Aimé Césaire (inauguration of his name in the Panthéon in Paris)
- Audry Pulvar again
- Rama Yade (Secretary of State for Sports)
- Lilian Thuram (former footbal player and anti-racism activist)
- etc (different people)

The documentary "Noir de France" ("Blacks of France”) could also be entitled “ Black doesn’t mean we have here arrived yesterday”. And that’s why this documentary is right on time.

In an the author Blanchard points out that the current public debate of immigration, integration and citizenship in France often treats black people as foreigners who still have to integrate. 

A year ago sociologist Hughes Lagrange made a hit by saying that African immigrants had a cultural inability to integrate. Lagrange is considered one of France's leading experts on teenage criminality and was an important analyst of the French riots in 2005.

But this book and the documentary show another story, it shows that black people have a deeper history with France than most people think, or would like to believe. 

Blanchard notes that even no member of the French centre-right political party the UMP knows that the first black mayor of France, Raphaël Elizé, was elected in 1929 in the city of Sablé-sur-Sarthe, the same city where the current Prime Minister François Fillon was mayor for eight years.

The reason why it took so long to bring French black history to the attention of the general public was because there was no publisher who wanted to publish the book. But times have changed in a country were racial and ethnic categories were until recently officially taboo.

The book is a success and the documentary and the forthcoming exhibitions will further fuel the need to explore and to celebrate the history of the black presence in France. See an french article about the book and the documentary here

Synopsis documentary: From 1889 to our days - 130 years of shared history. This three-part documentary film weaves together many archives and new testimonies to tell us about the contemporary French black history over 130 years. 

This film gives a voice to both the protagonists and the heirs of this history and relays the building of a French Black identity. An old history, a presence which becomes visible with the 1889 World's Fair. A story which goes through two World wars, the colonial period, the Independencies, and the time of the migrations from the West Indies and Africa, but also from the Indian Ocean, New Caledonia, and from the African American influence since the Interwar period.

With: Sylvie Chalaye, Éric Deroo, Jacob Desvarieux, Rokhaya Diallo, Manu Dibango, Yandé Christiane Diop, Mar Fall, JoeyStarr, Gaston Kelman, Pascal Légitimus, Patrick Lozès, Elikia M'Bokolo, Alain Mabanckou, Pap Ndiaye, Audrey Pulvar, Claudy Siar, Soprano, Christiane Taubira, Lilian Thuram, Françoise Vergès

See the website here

French Tirailleurs

The story of the French Tirailleurs, the African riflemen from France’s former colonies who fought in the frontline trenches of the first world war, comes to the forefront in the new film featuring Omar Sy 
Sy has insisted the film does not challenge French history but focuses on an often overlooked aspect.


Tirailleurs, featuring Lupin star Omar Sy, tells story of father and son during first world war.



  1. Hello there,

    I`m an afro-french and I would like to warn you. I came from Martinique at the age of 15 to live in

    Paris. I stayed there until 30. So I know very well the condition and mentality of black french. What you read or see

    about black french "revolution" is not real. Many black french will tell you that they are "black and proud".

    By wearing dreads, listenning black music, etc... they will try to convince you that they have a strong black identity.

    However, this comedy tend to fall apart when you are living there.

    When you are observing them in their daily routine, you find out that most of them want to be black

    only in the saturday black parties, front of other blacks, etc.. in short where it "looks good" to be black.

    But when for example they are at work, you found out that this "proudness" tend to disappear.

    Front of the white french most of them tend to spit openly on their blackness. Once they have the false

    feeling that they are accepted by the white french establishment, most of them don`t want to be associated whith their community.

    What you see on TV and so on, it`s people who want to be loved and accepted by the white section of the population.

    Because for them, in their slave mentality white = privileges. They can become openly racist against

    the culture of their own parents if this attitude assure them a job, to be accepted in some circles, the heart of a non-afro women etc...

    They have two faces. What they will tell and show you it`s not what they really think.

    My advice to you will be to search through the internet the black french football player, the black french musicien, politician, etc...

    You`ll find out that most of them are married with white european women or very light skin black women:

    Audrey Pulvar

    Rama yade

    Those video and pictures are very indicative about what`s really going on.

    I`m not saying all of them are like that, but be aware that a big number of them are like that.

    So don`t get fooled...

    You can contact me at Kmeoo2003 ( at )

  2. Hello Anonymous from Martinique...
    I quite agree with your statement here,I´m personally a Negropolitaine...It means that I was born and raise in Paris and I´m from Martinique origin on both sides of my parents.I more or less had the same perception about our assimilation syndrome as I call it...
    My mum is one of those Caribbean that came at the end of the sixties through what was called the BUMIDOM.
    Basically France paid thousands of cheap passages through 6 months of a bad boat trip,so people could arrive and be exploited as third category citizens and cheap labour.The way there were treated on arrival and the fact that the situation didn´t change for many years after,changed this generation for ever.They did lost their identity and pride or part of their dignity and weren´t given the opportunity to have a real and positive assimilation.
    I´m like many other,the daughter of that generation, and what we learned from the difficulty of our parents is not to make much noise,always know our place in society and of course don´t dream too high and too loud.Because even if we were given access to a good education we knew that after all,we would be confronted to a institutional racism(under the table,not spoken or in your face but real)that would not let us pass from the service job sector.
    The thing in my case is that I left France 20 years ago for London and then for Spain where I´m an actual resident.The funny thing is,the first part of my journey in England was quite an eye opener to what was happening back home through comparison with the local Caribbean community.I was so chocked to see them in the media(BBC),in politics and owning their businesses,being proud of being different and being who they are.So I learned a big lesson there and stopped finding myself offended when some Jamaican would ask me where I was from and would not take for an answer that I was French.
    After 10 years there I decided to leave to sunny Spain for love and my boyfriend was English and white I arrived on the small island of Mallorca in 2001 and got myself back to what my mum lived 40 years earlier in Paris...In a place were any Black person had to be from African origin, analphabet,from dubious moral not to say a prostitute and of course an illegal... Needless to say that I had to go through the biggest identity crisis of my life and yes I got myself glued to the English community not because I was ashamed of my ethnic heritage, because there I had respect for as a person,was not questioned on a daily basis about my presence on Spanish soil; but the most important thing was not treated as a cheap sexual object.
    10 years down the line with a change of geographical situation,I found myself still affected on my daily routine with the local ignorance and racism and I still carry a ship on my shoulder.

  3. I did mention my white boyfriend,because maybe the other way around we have a lot of that sexist situation where a successful Black man associate power and being on top with having a white woman on his arm.Of course we are talking about having a lighter descendance,but we can´t generalize this phenomenon to every body.And I do add that mixed couples in Europe don´t form for the same reason as in the US.We are actually second and third generation raised together,we are a melting pot of different origins that grew together and a lot of barriers fell down long ago.
    And when it comes to Black couples,I´m sorry to say that it was my first choice as a natural thing but I didn´t found the respect and the trust I was looking for in the relationship 20 years ago...
    And I´m not saying this only for Caribbean men,I did date African,Brazilian an Afro American...
    What I mean is that we as Black mothers are not giving the necessary legacy to our off springs for them to change their behaviour with the next generation,they still repeat bad habits seen from their grandfathers and fathers.And sadly this still today where ever you come from the majority.
    Personally I believe in passing on my ethnical heritage to my kids but I do believe as well in the mix,I´m the result of a very interesting one as on both side my grandmothers were respectively from Sri Lanka and Polynesia,and the white part one generation earlier was from Brittany.

  4. Misha M, thanks for the comments. You have just shared a piece of French history and personal experience you don't hear about very often. So, thank you very much for sharing this!

  5. Thank you everyone for sharing your personal experiences and oppinions. I am an African American woman of French descendant from New Jersey, USA. I wanted to find out more about the culture and you've helped me to want to know more.

    Thank you,

    Bella Vittoria

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