Thursday, November 19, 2015

Dr. Bryan Carter's Digital Love Affair with Paris

Dr. Bryan Carter is an Associate Professor at the University of Arizona's Department of Africana Studies. With a strong background in both 20th-century African-American literature and digital technology, he teaches the history of the Harlem Renaissance and the techniques of emerging digital culture. He has collaborated with the University of Paris IV - Sorbonne for many years, bringing classrooms alive with his lectures on digital technology.

Dr. Bryan Carter at café Le Rostand, Paris
© Discover Paris!

In 2004, Dr. Carter was named Professeur Invité by the Sorbonne and asked to be the project leader for the development of a digital project called Virtual Montmartre. Since then, he has received the Professeur Invité award twelve (12) times. He has been bringing University of Arizona students to Paris for study abroad since 2013.

I met with Dr. Carter in Paris a few days ago at Le Rostand, a café near the Luxembourg Garden, to discuss the details of a collaboration between his department at the University of Arizona and the Wells International Foundation (WIF). We have envisioned an Augmented Reality project that will bring U of Az students to Paris to create a digital platform for paintings that will be shown at the February 2016 Beauford Delaney art exhibition at Columbia Global Centers | Europe at Reid Hall.

Nativity Scene
Beauford Delaney
(1961) Oil on canvas

The working title for the exhibition is Beauford Delaney and Paris: A Breathtaking Evolution. It will be presented from February 4-29, 2016.

Using custom software, students will take high resolution images of several of the paintings in the show and upload them to a digital platform. They will then shoot short video segments of a docent explaining some aspect of each painting or the story behind it, and overlay that video on the image of the painting. When a visitor to the exhibition downloads the app on to a mobile device, he or she will be able to stand in front of a painting, scan it, and watch the video on the device’s screen.

Audio overlays and links to Web sites are other possible augments that will be considered for this project. Augments will be done in English and French.

Dr. Carter also gives a ten-day course in Paris over Thanksgiving break during which University of Arizona students experience "on the ground" what they have learned during a semester course at the university called "When African Americans Came to Paris." During that week, the students also create a collaborative video and implement an Augmented Reality project.

During his current stint at the Sorbonne, Dr. Carter is teaching a business technologies and e-commerce course to international business students. Course participants are being exposed a variety of technologies and topics related to business communications, digital technologies and cloud-based applications.

For more information about Dr. Carter, click HERE.


Entrée to Black Paris!™ is a Discover Paris! blog.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

"Ghosts of Amistad" Comes to Paris

Marcus Rediker, Distinguished Professor of Atlantic History at the University of Pittsburgh and award-winning writer, is the author of a seminal work on the Amistad, the famous slave ship upon which Africans successfully rose up against their captors during a voyage from Havana to Puerto Principe, Cuba. Imprisoned in a Connecticut jail, they were eventually freed by the U.S. Supreme Court. Most of them returned to Sierra Leone, their homeland in Africa.

Rediker's book, entitled An Atlantic Odyssey of Slavery and Freedom (Viking-Penguin, 2012), was the impetus for the creation of a documentary called Ghosts of Amistad: In the Footsteps of the Rebels.

In 2013, Rediker partnered with film director Tony Buba and recruited a team of associates (all of whom were white Americans) to visit Sierra Leone to make this film. Rediker's intent was to bring forth the history of the Africans on the Amistad prior to their capture and to learn how the event is remembered by those living in their homelands today.

I met Professor Rediker and saw the video, which was presented in English with French subtitles, during a screening hosted by the U. S. Embassy at the Hôtel Talleyrand in Paris. It was part of a tour that he is undertaking to promote the recently released French translation of The Amistad Rebellion, which is entitled Les Révoltés de l’Amistad: Une odyssée atlantique (1839-1842) (Seuil, 2015).

The documentary begins with scenes from Freetown, where Rediker's group began its excursion. It then presents the story of the Amistad rebels, illustrating it with images from diverse sources - including a partial view of Hale Woodruff's mural The Trial of the Amistad Captives, and then focuses on the group's trek into the Sierra Leone countryside.

Screenshot - Hale Woodruff's The Trial of the Amistad Captives

Rediker attributes much of the success of the venture to Taziff Koroma, Professor of Linguistics at Fourah Bay College in Sierra Leone, who acted as cultural mediator for the group. Because Koroma had built solid relationships with village chiefs based on trust, he was able to bring the team into remote areas and gain access to people that they would never have been able to meet had they acted on their own. And because he understood the nuances of the various languages spoken throughout the country, he was able to offer different possible pronunciations of the names of people and places about which Rediker's group sought information.

Screenshot - Marcus Rediker and Taziff Koroma in Sierra Leone

The highlight of the trip was the successful location of Lomboko (referred to by Sierra Leone natives as "Jomboko"), an ancient slave-trading post or "factory" where the Amistad rebels began their transatlantic voyage. The screenshot below shows the view from the bow of the canoe in which Rediker and his companions were taken to the site, which many had long believed to be under water and therefore inaccessible.

Screenshot - Title frame from Ghosts of Amistad showing the voyage to Lomboko

Following this fascinating 56-minute video, Rediker fielded questions from the audience. Many attendees were French-speaking, so simultaneous translation was the order of the evening.

Marcus Rediker at the podium
© Discover Paris!

The audience was so engaged and Rediker so generous with his responses that the Embassy staff finally had to insist that we leave!

Ghosts of Amistad was awarded the American Historical Association's John E. O'Connor Prize for the best historical documentary of 2015. For more information on the film, including a link to a trailer video, click HERE.

For more information about Marcus Rediker, click HERE.


Entrée to Black Paris!™ is a Discover Paris! blog.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Black Chefs on ETBP

Chef Michael Poole returned to Paris this fall. Tom and I caught up with him Tuesday night at Mococha Chocolats, where we attended a tasting of Erithaj chocolates from Vietnam.

Chef Michael D. Poole at Mococha Chocolats
© Discover Paris!

Our encounter inspired me to look up the last article that I wrote about him.  I was astonished to discover that I've written no fewer than five of them!

Seattle Firefighter Michael D. Poole Shows Parisians How to Make *Hot* Caramel-filled Chocolates

Chef Michael D. Poole brings Cayenne Caramel to Paris

Chef Michael Poole – Summer Sabbatical

Chef Michael Poole - Artisanal "Hot Chocolat"

Chef Michael Poole - Firefighter and Cordon Bleu Grad

This inspired me to look back through the blog archives to find other articles that I've written about chefs. Below are photos of some of them, along with links to their articles.

Chef Rougui Dia
Image courtesy of Laurent Guyot Communications

Rougui Dia Rules the Kitchen at Le Vraymonde

Chef Henri-Serge Manga
© Discover Paris!

Cameroonian Chef is King at Cuistance

Chef Alexandre Bella Ola
© Discover Paris!

Rio Dos Camarãos Restaurant: A Review

Of these three chefs, only Chef Alexandre remains at the helm of the restaurants described in these posts. I'm now inspired to revisit his restaurant in Montreuil and to find out where the other two have gone!


Entrée to Black Paris!™ is a Discover Paris! blog.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

50th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Visit to Paris

Last weekend, the American Church in Paris celebrated the 50th anniversary of the sermon that Dr. Martin Luther King delivered there.

Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1964
Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs

On October 24, 1965, Dr. King preached at the American Church during a whirlwind two-day visit to Paris that was instigated by the Féderation Protestante de France (FPF), an organization that has connected Protestant churches and associations throughout France for over 100 years. His intervention at the church was facilitated by the Reverend and Mrs. Martin B. Sargent, who invited Dr. and Mrs. King to stay at their apartment during the Kings' visit.

That Sunday morning in October, the church was packed to overflowing and Dr. King's sermon was well received.

Inside the American Church in Paris
© Discover Paris!

Carving of Dr. King on the pulpit at the American Church
Richard Wessel
1984 Basswood
© Discover Paris!

The FPF also invited Dr. King to speak at the Maison de la Mutualité on the evening of October 24, where he delivered a speech about "a Christian movement in a revolutionary age." He spoke in English to a full house and his words were translated into French by pastor Robert Somerville. He was repeatedly interrupted by applause and was given a ovation at the end of his speech. Afterward, he met with the press for interviews in a small room at the conference venue.

A few days later, Dr. King wrote a letter to Pastor Somerville to thank him for that "extremely accurate translation" of his speech.

Maison de la Mutualité
© Discover Paris!

On October 25, Dr. King spent time with French and foreign pastors from across Paris at the Eglise Reformée de l'Annociation in the 16th arrondissement. He was also interviewed by the FPF for a television show called Présence Protestante (Protestant Presence).

During the interview, Dr. King responded to questions about the practicality of non-violence as a strategy against racial oppression, how he thought his movement would succeed in the north compared to the southern U.S., how the French population could become involved in his struggle, and what Jesus Christ represented to him personally. In his response to the third question, he indicated that French people could lend their support by writing letters to the U.S. government and making financial contributions* to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

The interview was televised on November 7, 1965.

*The September 2015 edition of the ACP newsletter, Spire, reports that the FPF collected and donated 6,125 francs to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.


Entrée to Black Paris!™ is a Discover Paris! blog.