Entrée to Black Paris Blog

Black History Month 2022 at the American University of Paris

Thursday, February 24th, 2022

Black History Month 2022 at the American University of Paris

Cover image: Motse Kuswani and Monique Y. Wells at
Myth of a Colorblind France screening

© Wells International Foundation

Black and Abroad is a student group at the American University of Paris.  Founded in 2020, its purpose is to provide a community that prioritizes the voices and needs of Black students, faculty, and alumni of AUP. Motse Ntloedibe - Kuswani currently serves as president.

The organization hosted a robust series of events in celebration of Black History Month, beginning with a discussion entitled "Black Lives Matter - Intersectional Justice."

The intent was to create a safe space for students to share their understanding and experiences of intersectionality at AUP and outside the AUP community.

President Kuswani invited members of L'ACICS (L'Association pour la Connaissance, l'Intégration, et la Cohérance Sociale) to attend the event.  L'ACICS secretary Abdoulaye Lah Sidibe represented the organization and shared the following about what he experienced:

"The 'Black Lives Matter - Intersectional Justice' event was the discovery of black identity. Most of the discussions were centered around what it meant to be 'black' in this day and age and what actions need to be taken to tackle social justice issues. It was a wholehearted exploration of the issues which we face as a community, especially as black youth. 

"The discussions strongly resonated with our association's mission as we want to guide these young minds to find inspiration in the achievement of the various black people from around the world who achieved great things even in the face of the adversity of their times. This event was full of young, talented and ambitious young minds which stand to gain immensely from learning about the shoulders of the giants they stand on.

"We would like to thank Mr. Kuswani of Black and Abroad for inviting us and also to Dr. Wells of the Wells International Foundation for the introduction to Black and Abroad. We sincerely hope that more events like these could be organised, especially taking care to foster connections between young black people in Europe and the United States."

Following on the heels of this auspicious opening event were two discussions on "Inclusive Academia," a screening of the film The Harder They Fall, and an evening poetry workshop and performance centered on creative writing, self-appreciation, Black and intersectional feminism with poet Yazmin Monet Watkins.

To accommodate Spring Break (which began on February 19), Black and Abroad hosted its final Black History Month events during the third week of February.  In collaboration with Documentary Arts and the Wells International Foundation (WIF), it screened the video documentary Myth of a Colorblind France at a hybrid event on Wednesday, February 16. 

Motse Kuswani preparing for screening
© Wells International Foundation

Myth of a Colorblind France screening - Family of Karim Touré
© Wells International Foundation

I was physically present for the Q&A session held after the viewing.  Director Alan Govenar of Documentary Arts participated virtually.

On Thursday, February 16, the group invited Dr. Matifadza Hlatchwayo Davis, a Zimbabwean-American physician and public health expert in Missouri, to speak about global health and the Black community at an online event.

Anyone accessing in-person or hybrid events through the Combes building was treated to an exhibition of paintings by AUP professor Elodie Barthélemy, a French-Haitian artist.  The show, entitled Haiti, was mounted with the intent to "force each viewer to reconsider important figures and places from the period of slavery."

Haiti exhibition signage
© Entrée to Black Paris

From Africa to Haiti - 1, 2, 3, 5
2008, acrylic
© Elodie Barthélemy
Photo © Entrée to Black Paris

Advertisements: Sale for Reason of Departure: The Port
© Elodie Barthélemy
1998, acrylic
Photo © Entrée to Black Paris

Contact Black and Abroad at blackandabroad@aup.edu.