Black Lives Matter, Transatlantic Occurences:
The Cases of France and the United States

June 29-July 2, 2021
3.00- 4.45 pm (GMT +2)

The death of George Floyd at the hands of the police forces of Minneapolis (MN), late May of this year sparked weeks-long mobilizations unprecedented in U.S. history. Those marches, protests, and unrest were unprecedented in their geographic scope, the numbers of people involved, the age and multicultural/racial/ethnic demographics they encompassed. Almost immediately following the events related to George Floyd, on the other side of the Atlantic – in France – another case of police brutality involving Adama Traoré, a young black man of Malian origin and French birth, life and citizenship, managed to gather, to some unexpectedly, large numbers of people in French cities in a way that had not occurred since 1983 and the first large-scale march against Racism and for Equality in Hexagonal France.
By looking at this particular moment of anti-racism activism as it unfolds, how can one reflect on the history, nature and specificities of the global questions of racism and anti-racism as they take root and are both understood and managed in France and the United States, two Western powers with highly distinct and differing approaches to these issues. But despite the differences in management, in each country, black lives remain precarious and fragile. What are the many and complex forms of racism? How does racism morph according to the territory where it is cultivated? Through observations of the past and present, what can we learn to make sense of the present, but also imagine a future in which full humanity – that is to say the justice- is shared equally, and becomes available to all?.

Maboula Soumahoro is an associate professor in the English department of the University of Tours, France, where she also received her PhD. A specialist in the field of Africana Studies (Atlantic), Dr. Soumahoro has conducted research and taught in several universities and prisons in the United States and France: Bennington College, Columbia University (New York and Paris), Barnard College, Bard Prison Initiative (Bayview Correctional Facility), Stanford University (Paris), Sciences Po (Paris and Reims), the prisons in Bois-d’Arcy, Villepinte (juvenile detention), and Fresnes. From 2013 to 2016, Dr. Soumahoro served as a member of the National Committee for the Memory and History of Slavery. Since 2013, she is also the president of the Black History Month (BHM), an organization dedicated to the celebration of Black history and cultures throughout the world. Dr. Soumahoro is the author of Le Triangle et l’Hexagone, réflexions sur une identité noire (Black is the Journey, Africana the Name, La Découverte). This book was distinguished by the committee of the FetKann! Maryse Condé literary prize in 2020.