French shadow figures,
these blacks who made France

In France, there are very few black men who are considered major figures in our official history with the exception of Aimé Césaire or Félix Eboué. Who remembers the first black deputy in France Blaise Diagne or even Gaston Gerville-Réache, in 1904, the vice-president of the Chamber of Deputies? Who also remembers Battling Siki, a great French boxer of Senegalese origin who knocked out Georges Carpentier and who became world champion in 1922?

Severiano from Heredia
“The black mayor” of Paris, deputy, minister of public works.

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Severiano de Heredia was Minister of Public Works and President of the Council of Paris under the 3rd Republic. He was denigrated for his
alive and erased from memories upon his death. Indeed this black man fought among other things to reduce the working day in the factory to
ten hours for children under twelve. He spoke out against General Boulanger and intervened in the passage of laws on the Paris metropolitan network.

Severiano de Hérédia was elected municipal councilor of the Ternes district in 1873, then president of the Paris council in 1879 and deputy
of the Seine in 1881. In 1887, he became the Black Prime Minister of Public Works. A ministry of full power in the Rouvier government.

And yet, it remains unrecognized, not to say unknown. His name does not appear on the list of personalities buried in the Parisian cemetery
des Batignolles where it rests, nor in current popular dictionaries and encyclopedias. No trace of his name in today's Paris
or elsewhere in France. He has never been decorated with the Legion of Honor even though he is the creator of the municipal libraries in Paris and, following Victor Hugo and Jules Ferry, president of the Philotechnique association. This great republican classified in the cemetery of oblivion is one of those blacks who made France.

Paul Strade, professor at the University of Paris VIII, edited a book "Sévériano de Hérédia: this Cuban mulatto that Paris made mayor and the Republic minister", prefaced by the 1st black deputy of the capital, Georges Pau-Langevin. In this book the author has gone through the archives
of the Paris police, the National Library, the Grand Orient of France, as well as the Cuban archives in order to restore history.
He explains to us “In France, only the archivist of the Grand Orient de France had noticed his flashy name and his eminent rank within the Masonic hierarchy. But he didn't know he was black. "

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Blaise Diagne
the first African deputy

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Blaise Diagne is a French politician, born October 13, 1872 in Gorée (Four municipalities) in Senegal and died May 11, 1934 in Cambo-les-Bains (Pyrénées-Atlantiques) in France. He is the first African deputy elected to the French Chamber of Deputies. Indeed, until that date, the previous black deputies in the parliament of France were from the French colonies in the Americas. He is also the first African Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies. A fervent assimilationist, he owes his fame to his desire to fully involve
Africans to French policy both during the establishment of colonial structures and once they are installed. He also played an important role in favor of the rights of Africans engaged in colonial troops.

Blaise Diagne entered this colonial administration in 1892, he was first appointed in:
- 1892 in Dahomey (now Benin);
- 1897 in the French Congo;
- 1898 in Reunion;
- 1902 in Madagascar, the last post where his advanced opinions displeased Gallieni;
- 1910, Blaise Diagne is sent to Guyana where his links with the governor are facilitated by his membership in the Grand Orient de France.

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Kofi Yamgnane
"Successful integration"

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Kofi Yamgnane is a Franco-Togolese politician, born October 11, 1945 in Bassar, Togo. He is Secretary of State for Integration
to the Minister of Social Affairs and Integration from 1991 to 1993, regional councilor for Brittany from 1992 to 1997 and socialist deputy for Finistère during the 11th legislature from 1997 to 2002. In 1975, he obtained French nationality and has since held this year dual nationality (French and Togolese).

On March 20, 1989, he was elected mayor of Saint-Coulitz. That year, France celebrates the 200 years of its Revolution, it is in search of symbols, Kofi becomes that of “successful integration”, elected by a population one hundred percent white (except Kofi Yamgnane himself). A year later, he was named "Breton of the Year" by Armor Magazine and the following year, he was appointed Secretary of State in the government of Edith Cresson, then in 1992 in the Bérégovoy government. In 1994, he became general councilor of Finistère then in 1997, he was elected deputy, a seat that he did not find in 2002. In 2001, he was reelected general councilor of Finistère and became vice-president of the Departmental Assembly, in charge of policies some water.

On January 20, 2008, Brice Hortefeux, Minister of Immigration, Integration, National Identity and Codevelopment, announced the creation of a commission responsible for reflecting on the constitutional questions posed by the quota policy. immigrants and of which Kofi Yamgnane would be a member

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Camille Mortenol
The man who foiled the air strikes

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Camille Mortenol a Guadeloupe commander in the defense of Paris. At 55, he was chosen by General Gallieni, military governor of Paris, to assist him in the defense of the French capital. Gallieni had been able to appreciate the dedication of Mortenol when they served together in Madagascar.

He was appointed director of the maritime aviation service of the entrenched camp in Paris. He has the responsibility of defending Paris against attacks from enemy aircraft. With the help of an intelligence service and enormous night searchlights, in particular that of the fort of Mont-Valérien which dominates the capital, he thwarts the air attacks. A mission that he accomplished with success and which earned him the promotion of reserve artillery colonel in 1917, then commander of the Legion of Honor.

We therefore remember that France was one of the most advanced countries in the world in terms of diversity, of course, but today this question of diversity is not resolved ...

In the end, it is as if the presence of these great black men made no sense in the grand national narrative and that each generation removed them from the narrative of the previous generation.

Today, seeing black people in the France team or presenting a TV show does not really pose a problem, but a black person as Prime Minister or even president, that's another story! And yet it was easier for a black person to be elected mayor of a French city in the 1930s than today.

Why ? First of all, there were far fewer blacks in France and their presence was considered temporary. The French have therefore minimized the fact that a whole generation will continue to be born and become French citizens. That's why no one took them into account. France created a mixed republic before everyone else, then she was afraid and the issue of social violence in the suburbs did not help matters ...

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