African Americans Moving to Paris
- African Americans (also referred to as Afro-Americans or Black Americans) in France are people of African American heritage or black people from the United States who are or have become residents or citizens of France, as well as students and temporary workers.
- African Americans, who are largely descended from Africans of the American Colonial Era, have lived and worked in France since the 1800s. Unofficial figures indicate that up to 50,000 free blacks immigrated to Paris from Louisiana in the decades after Napoleon sold the territory to the United States in 1803.
- Paris saw the beginnings of an African-American community in the aftermath of World War I when about 200,000 were brought over to fight. Nine tenths of the soldiers were from the American South. Many black GIs decided to stay in France after having been well received by the French, and others followed them. France was viewed by many African Americans as a welcome change from the widespread racism in the United States.
- It was then that jazz was introduced to the French, and black culture was born in Paris. African American musicians, artists and Harlem Renaissance writers found 1920s Paris ready to embrace them with open arms. Montmartre became the center of the small community, with jazz clubs such as Le Grand Duc, Chez Florence and Bricktop's thriving in Paris.
- Tyler Stovall, a history professor at the University of California, Berkeley, has said: “In many ways, African Americans came to France as a sort of privileged minority, a kind of model minority, if you will—a group that benefited not only from French fascination with blackness, but a French fascination about Americanness. Although their numbers never exceeded a few thousand.”
- Notable Black Americans that moved to Paris for opportunities that American denied them are James Baldwin, Richard Wright, Josephine Baker, Lois Mailou Jones, Beauford Delaney and many more.