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Meet the Media Guru | Tania de Montaigne

“Take a deep breath, come closer and follow my voice, from now on you are black, a black man from 1950s Alabama. You are in Alabama, the capital: Montgomery. Look at you, your body is changing, you are in the skin and soul of Claudette Colvin, a 15-year-old girl with no history. You’ve always known that being black doesn’t give you any rights, but it does give you many duties…”.

But on 2 March 1955, on the 2.30 p.m. bus, Claudette Colvin refused to give up her seat to a white woman. Despite threats, she remained seated. Thrown into prison, she decided to plead not guilty and sue the city. No one before her had dared to do so and that day marked the beginning of a journey that would take Claudette Colvin from an act of resistance to oblivion. Noire is the story of this 15-year-old heroine, still alive and almost unknown. Noire is the portrait of a legendary city, where Martin Luther King, a 26-year-old pastor, and Rosa Parks, a 40-year-old seamstress and not yet a mother of the civil rights movement, crossed paths. Noire is the story of an ongoing struggle against racist violence and arbitrary treatment.

On Friday 23 February at 6.30 p.m., we meet Tania de Montaigne, writer, playwright and journalist who gave voice to the young Claudette with her biographical essay Noire, la vie méconnue de Claudette Colvin, éditions Grasset, Simone Veil Prize 2015 and finalist for the Grand prix des lectrices de ELLE 2016.

“What comes after the black woman? No one has come back to say”.

Racism and sexism are at the centre of important debates today. We feel it is more than crucial to support the general public in recognising the story of Claudette Colvin, a metonymy of black history in the United States. The partial reconstruction of Claudette’s trial is a direct echo of Tania’s book. There is no real trace of these tragic and decisive moments, which is why we wanted to give Claudette Colvin a voice through this virtual reconstruction. Little by little, the immersion transports the viewer to 1950s Alabama and the premise of the struggle for civil rights. The essential asset of this experience remains an author at the centre of her own text. Tania de Montaigne has the rare presence of debutants who do not realise their charisma. Without ever forcing herself, with her deep voice, she rehabilitates the act and thus the life of a 15-year-old girl.