War Heroes, Jazz, and Existentialists: Black Americans in Paris with Samuél Lopez-Barrantes

War Heroes, Jazz, and Existentialists: Black Americans in Paris with Samuél Lopez-Barrantes


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The City of Lights was home to the most important black American artists of the twentieth century. From the early jazz men and women that invented a new kind of melody for a Lost Generation to Richard Wright, James Baldwin, and the artists that inspired them, the history of Paris cannot be told without the story of the American artists whose skin color forever defined them back home.

Beginning with the story of the 'Harlem Hell Fighters', one of the greatest military outfits in American history, we will learn about the soldiers in James Reese Europe’s jazz band that brought a new kind of sound to the roaring twenties. From the famous jazz clubs in Montmartre to black Americans’ indubitable influence on the Roaring Twenties, this story will also cover American legends Josephine Baker and Sidney Bechet, whose artistic flare defined a generation.

Migrating to the Latin Quarter, the second part of this seminar will cover the story of Richard Wright and James Baldwin’s famous feud on the Boulevard St. Germain, including the historic books and ideas for which both men became literary celebrities. Ending in the jazz clubs of the 1950s that saw the likes of Miles Davis and Duke Ellington, this is the story of Americans in Paris that far too few of us have been told.

Led by Samuél Lopez-Barrantes, a jazz musician and expert in literary and intellectual history, this interactive seminar will cover the story of Americans in Paris whose skin color was their only defining feature back home. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with a better understanding of the vibrant jazz scene in Paris after World War One, the unsung heroes of the roaring twenties, and a better understanding of the works of Richard Wright and James Baldwin, two of the most important writers in American history.

Samuél is a novelist and musician who has lived in Paris since 2010. He holds an M.A. in European Society from University College London and an MFA in creative writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Samuél teaches literature and creative writing at Paris’ Sorbonne. He is also in an American folk-rock trio, Slim & The Beast, whose self-titled EP has already caught the attention of Rolling Stone France.

This conversation is not suitable for children under age 16

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

Customer Reviews

Based on 10 reviews
100%
(10)
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(0)
0%
(0)
0%
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J
J.M.
Fascinating and Important Look at Paris's history!

Once again, Samuel knocked it out of the park. This was an excellent explanation of the who/what/when/why/how of the Parisian jazz age and how that morphed & joined up with the existentialists after WWII. I learned a lot and have new spots to visit & appreciate on my next trip to Paris!

S
S.P.

Guest did not leave comment

E
E.C.
Amazing stories

This session was full of fascinating stories about what life was like for Black Americans living in Paris during the 1920s and what drove them to cross the Atlantic to find more freedom to express themselves. Samuel is super knowledgable and knew lots of details about the personal relationships between the different characters who were hanging around Paris in that era.

C
C.
Knowledgeable, engaging, scholarly dialogue

An expert in his field, passionate about sharing his knowledge and encouraging dialogue.

A
A.
A timely perspective on a fascinating time

I knew most of the main players discussed but I learned about them in a much more nuanced way in this conversation. I found Samuel to be a lively instructor - and I really appreciated how he tied the content to questions of race that we are exploring more fully today. I would definitely do other classes with Samuel. In person or online.

Customer Reviews

Based on 10 reviews
100%
(10)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
J
J.M.
Fascinating and Important Look at Paris's history!

Once again, Samuel knocked it out of the park. This was an excellent explanation of the who/what/when/why/how of the Parisian jazz age and how that morphed & joined up with the existentialists after WWII. I learned a lot and have new spots to visit & appreciate on my next trip to Paris!

S
S.P.

Guest did not leave comment

E
E.C.
Amazing stories

This session was full of fascinating stories about what life was like for Black Americans living in Paris during the 1920s and what drove them to cross the Atlantic to find more freedom to express themselves. Samuel is super knowledgable and knew lots of details about the personal relationships between the different characters who were hanging around Paris in that era.

C
C.
Knowledgeable, engaging, scholarly dialogue

An expert in his field, passionate about sharing his knowledge and encouraging dialogue.

A
A.
A timely perspective on a fascinating time

I knew most of the main players discussed but I learned about them in a much more nuanced way in this conversation. I found Samuel to be a lively instructor - and I really appreciated how he tied the content to questions of race that we are exploring more fully today. I would definitely do other classes with Samuel. In person or online.