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Présence Africaine - A Black Paris Icon

Thursday, August 17th, 2023

Présence Africaine - A Black Paris Icon

Cover image: Cover art (details) for Présence Africaine - La Transmission

Présence Africaine has been a stop on Entrée to Black Paris' Black Paris after World War II walking tour since we began our business in 1999 under the name "Discover Paris! – Personalized Itineraries for Independent Travelers."

I can't count the number of individuals, families, and groups we have brought to this bookstore and told about its illustrious history and invaluable contributions to Black culture and contemporary life in Paris!

Below are images of a few of them.

Monique Y. Wells and Barbara Paroissien
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Monique Y. Wells and Professor Saladin Ambar
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Going Global with Barbara
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Présence Africaine began as a journal – La Revue Présence Africaine – in 1947, with its first edition being published in November of that year.  Founder Alioune Diop began conceiving the publication as World War II ravaged Europe. 

After the war, Diop brought together a patronage committee of intelligentsia including Richard Wright, Léopold Sédar Senghor, Aimé Césaire, André Gide, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Albert Camus to contribute to the review while resolving not to restrict the ideologies expressed by the authors they sought to publish.  La Revue Présence Africaine rapidly became a forum for the Négritude movement, which sought to reclaim and redefine the value of African culture.

In 1949, Diop and his wife, Christiane Yandé Diop, founded the Présence Africaine publishing company.  Working in tandem with the journal, it provided (and still provides) a platform for Black writers and researchers from Africa and its diaspora to disseminate their works through the world. 

To date, the publishing house has produced Francophone non-fiction and fiction works (including children's books) and titles translated from their original language into French by 663 authors!

These works and more can be found at the bookstore, which was founded in 1962.

Children's books at Présence Africaine
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Alioune Diop died in 1980 and was buried in his native land of Senegal.  Christiane Diop and two of the Diop children took over the management of the business thereafter.  Christiane Diop was named a Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur at the Elysées Palace on April 8, 2009.

Présence Africaine was the subject of an entire exhibition at the Musée du quai Branly from November 9, 2009 through January 31, 2010. The show presented numerous books and archival documents, photographs and other objects. Sound and audiovisual recordings, including interviews specially made for the exhibition, were also part of the exhibition.

Entry to Musée du quai Branly exhibition
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Negro Nations and Cultures panel
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In 2019, the publishing house celebrated its 70th anniversary and produced a French-language booklet presenting its history that store clerks give away to our clients and other visitors.

Présence Africaine - La Transmission
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All books sold at Présence Africaine are published in French.

If you'd like to experience the Black Paris after WWII walking tour and visit Présence Africaine, send email to paris[at]entreetoblackparis[dot]com.