"Paris Street Scene." Library of Congress. Prints and Photographs Division. New York World-Telegram and Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection. African-American History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp? ItemID=WE01&iPin=afph0540&SingleRecord=True (accessed November 14, 2015).
The article “African Americans in Paris,” published in Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance (Facts On File/Infobase Publishing) begins with several compelling observations:
From the 1920s to the 1940s, and even well into the 1970s, Paris, France—often called the City of Light—provided a haven of racial and creative freedom for African-American artists. Lucrative, satisfying careers such as the dancing art of Josephine Baker were established in Paris, something that could not have been possible in the race-obsessed United States.
This tradition of welcoming those who have been oppressed in other lands perhaps stems from a sense of empathy borne out of Parisians' own historical struggles to maintain freedom and independence. Having asserted their collective will and intellect to fashion unique applications of justice and liberty, they are also (despite charges of unbearable snobbishness) observers of inspiring compassion.
The city consistently ranks among top destinations for tourists and is a favorite subject of historians. With an estimated 23 percent of its population of 2.3 million people having been born outside of France, it is obviously a favored location for transplants and migrants as well. In fact, because Paris has nurtured the genius of numerous striving creatives and provided shelter for so many weary pilgrims, the previous statements about African Americans can be made in regard to almost any cultural demographic in the world. That realization is only one reason the attacks on the city November 13, 2015, are so difficult for millions of people throughout the international community to comprehend.
Supporter of principles advocated by PEN American Center and the Academy of American Poets, Aberjhani is also the Choice Academic Title Award-winning co-author of the world's first Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance.