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Paris Noir- African American Experience in France Since WWI

Team Member: Shelley Bell

Shelley's Photo
Shelley's Photo


Joanne Burke wrote -

Help tell this story: how African Americans escaped prejudice for the first time, in Paris.

Our hour-long film: Paris Noir - African Americans in the City of Light is the first full account of these pioneering soldiers, musicians, artists, writers and entertainers.
Their presence and lives in France since WWI was fascinating then and is inspiring to this day.

Our initial screenings in Paris and the U.S. show strong interest but we need your help to make sure this little-featured story is shown in leading cultural, historical and educational institutions across the country.

To do that takes an estimated $1200 per destination in expenses so that our award-winning presenter Julia Browne can spend two intensive days in each community doing local screenings and events.

Help us send Julia to our first stops in Washington DC, Atlanta, then to a city near you. The more cities—the more you spread the word.   

(And if you donate $500 or more we will make sure you get a copy to gift to your favorite local organization).


The African American experience in France was so radically different from the U.S. in the early 20th century.  The enlisted men and officers who came during World War I experienced no racial prejudice for the first time in their lives, from the French at least .  They returned home and spread the word. Not surprisingly, a flood of artists, writers and entertainers flocked to France eager to escape the persistent and lethal racism in the U.S.

Paris Noir, African Americans in the City of Light is a one-hour illuminating and lively documentary that explores the history of this time and of these talented pioneers. It examines why and how life was different in Paris and how exchanges betweeen the French and Black Americans launched Black culture as an international force.

We, Joanne and David Burke of Blue Lion Films and Julia Browne of Walking the Spirit Tours, have been promoting our revelatory film in France and a bit of America. The response has been very enthusiastic from audiences of all ethnic backgrounds keen to know more about this history and phenomenon.  

So here it is - we need to go further and reach more cultural, historic and educational institutions where this story would augment their curriculae and archives.

We want to raise money so that Julia can travel throughout North America, presenting Paris Noir to conferences on Black Studies, museums, film festivals, libraries and educational departments at all levels.  


We estimate that each visit would cost an average of $1200 for a two-day visit.  If we raise $30,000, Julia can visit at least 20 destinations including hub cities like Boston, New York, Washington, DC, Chicago, Saint Louis, Atlanta, Memphis, Los Angeles, New Orleans and San Francisco. We have initial, interested contacts in these cities.

At each presentation, we hope to promote better knowledge and understanding of this lesser-known side of Black history and to build pride in Black achievement.

And to see for yourself how compelling this story is, watch the trailer on the left here, or click this link

Then please DONATE. Help us spread the word.

Who We Are

Joanne and David Burke, former producers, writers and editors for 60 minutes, CBS Reports, PBS and NBC. Independent producers of the great pianist/composer "MaryLou Williams: Music on My Mind", "New Directions" a 4-part series about trailblazing women in developing countries; "The Lafayette Escadrille" and "Anne Morgan in France". This Paris-based team is also the author of the ground-breaking series “When African Americans Came To Paris”.  

Julia Browne pioneered of Black heritage tourism in Paris. In 1994 she launched her Walking The Spirit Tours – Black Paris & Beyond, a series of signature tours and customized itineraries.  They continue to empower and delight travellers and locals. She is also an award-winning broadcaster and inspirational speaker.  



Organized by

Joanne Burke

This is a direct to organizer fundraiser.

Fundraise for this Campaign

The Team: $7,785 TOTAL RAISED SO FAR

Fundraiser Title

Joanne Burke

Amount Raised



26% Raised of $30,000 Goal

Fundraiser Title

Shelley Bell

Amount Raised


Donor Comments

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