Black Lights


Fifty years ago, in September 1956, a number of Black artists, overcoming numerous obstacles and prejudice, convened a large number of artists and writers - Africans, Caribbeans, African Americans, Anglophones, Francophones, and Pan-Africanists, among others – in Paris. The First Congress of Black Writers and Artists took place at the Sorbonne. Speakers included Alioune Diop, Léopold Sédar Senghor, Aimé Césaire, Richard Wright. In the auditorium one could see Claude Lévi-Strauss, René Depestre, Édouard Glissant and James Baldwin. This film relates how and why an event like this was made possible and how and why the governments of the time – France, the United States and the Soviet Union – went to great lengths to disrupt it, belittle its conclusions and play down its impact.