We know France for its beautiful monuments, metro, and delicious baguettes, but most people in the world don’t know what’s going on there. However, MEFeater is here to help. Take a journey with us as we introduce you to 5 French Black Women to Know. These ladies have left a print in France’s History through their work and it must be known to the world. Now, let’s see some French Black Girl Magic!
1. Assa Traoré: The Activist
Assa Traoré is a 36 years-old French-Malian activist who has been fighting against police violence since 2016. In July of 2016, Assa’s little brother, Adama Traoré was arrested and later found dead at a police station in Persan (a suburb of Paris). From this moment, Assa started her journey to reclaim the truth and justice for the murder of her little brother. Assa created the movement, “Justice pour Adama” (=justice for Adama) with family and friends.
Assa organized many peaceful demonstrations in Paris which have grown more popular over time. In June of last year, her biggest demonstration gathered about 80,000 people in Paris!
Assa’s fight crossed borders and allowed her to meet the great American activist, Angela Davis in 2018. Assa also received the Global Good Award 2020 from BET. In addition, she also did the cover of Time Magazine’s Guardian of the Year in December of 2020.
Determined and courageous, Assa Traoré is definitely the symbol of French activism and an inspiration for many. At MEF we give all our support to those fighting for justice throughout the world!
2. Clarisse Hieraix: The Fashion designer
Clarisse Hieraix is a French-Guadeloupean fashion designer. In 1999, she graduated from the prestigious Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture in Paris. In 2012, she launched her Clarisse Hieraix brand. Her atelier is located in Paris. Clarisse Hieraix not only designs, but also manufactures her own brand. You can find all kinds of pieces in her brands such as cocktail dresses or even wedding dresses.
Clarisse’s brand has been featured in a lot of renowned international media. She has dressed celebrities such as Rihanna, Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj, and Lady Gaga.
Audacity, feminity, and elegance are the words that describe her brand. Clarisse Hieraix made a name for herself and even participated in private shows. She’s also been in the Haute Couture Fashion Week! The fashion world takes its time to highlight black women, but our day is coming! We love to see a black woman in high fashion!
3. Aya Nakamura: The Artist
Aya Nakamura is a French-Malian artist who breaks the rules in the music industry.
Born in 1995, in Bamako, Mali she arrived in France at 2 years old.
Aya Nakamura is from a musician family and grew up naturally liking music. She started her career in 2013 on social media and she had a good little community at that time. A few years later, she has been spotted by the media and got invited on television, radios…
In 2016, her career popped with her hit single “Djadja”, which became a worldwide bop with over740 million views on YouTube.
Celebrities as Rihanna, Neymar, Sam Smith, or Jourdan Dunn have been seen dancing to the hit! The single has been #1 in different countries such as Belgique, France, Pays-Bas, and Romania.
In 2020, she was the most listened to French female singer on Spotify! Here are some of her singles to enjoy and to learn some French words; “Copines”, “Pookie”, “40%”, “Mon Lossa” ft. Ms. Banks.
Aya Nakamura is the first french black woman of History who break records abroad and we love to see it! All she makes become a hit!
4. Euzhan Palcy: The Filmmaker
Euzhan Placy is a 62-year-old French-Martinican director, screenwriter, and producer. She is famously known for her films, Rue Cases-Nègres (1983), and A Dry White Season (1989). Through her cinema, her main goal is to remember and highlight aspects of our culture we don’t learn at school.
Placy has many successes but her greatest is that she is the first Black woman to be produced by a Hollywood studio. Since that milestone, she received international recognition. In addition, she is the first black woman to be awarded at Cesar* in 1983.
* French ceremony which rewards Cinema.
Palcy is the first black director to bring an actor, Marlon Brando, to an Oscar nomination.
Euzhan is a pioneer in her field and has brought a lot of change to the cinema world. She has had an impressive career that easily makes her one of the greatest cinema figures of all time.
5. Marie-José Pérec: The Athlet
Marie José-Perec is a 52 years-old French-Guadeloupean former athlete.
She is known as one of the most renowned French athletes of History.
Nicknamed “the gazelle” because of her speed records and her athletic physic, Marie-José Pérec excelled in her field. She is the only French athlete to be a triple Olympic Champion and to have won the 400-meter title at two consecutive Olympic Games and be a triple Olympic Champion. In 2004, she retired from competition.
Marie-José Pérec’s performances are historical and some are recognized as the best of all time! As of today, she is still the only French athlete to have won three Olympic gold medals.
We hope you learned more about French History with these 5 French Black Women to Know!