A Guide to Sites, Museums, and Memory

House of Negritude and Human Rights Champagney, France

Exterior view of the House of Negritude
Exterior view of the House of Negritude.

On March 19, 1789, the inhabitants of the small eastern French village of Champagney, drew up their list of grievances like thousands of other French at the request of King Louis XVI. This document would be used to prepare the Estates General that would open the process of the French Revolution.

In addition to describing their daily difficulties, the inhabitants of Champagney added a one-of-a-kind item—Article 29—which called for the abolition of black slavery on humanitarian grounds. This article was probably written at the initiative of Jacques Antoine Priqueler, an officer of the King's guards who was in his hometown on leave.

The document, which had been kept in the state archives of the Haute-Saône (Doc B4213), was made public through the development of the House of Negritude. Inaugurated in 1971 in the premises of the town hall, the House of Negritude was transferred to a new location in 1995. In 1998 Champagney was retained as national site commemorating the 150th anniversary of the abolition of slavery. Since 2000, the house has been open to the public throughout the year.

The House of Negritude is a place of memory and reflection that invites visitors to look into violations of human rights in general and slavery in particular. It hosts about 6,000 visitors a year, one third of whom are students. Most of these students are in their 4th and 2nd Bac Pro, whose history curriculum includes black slavery. Other topics are also covered, like the history of Africa and issues related to citizenship and/or heritage. Guided tours sometimes address jazz or the study of American and Hispanic cultures. Students come year-round from schools located within a radius of about 150 kilometers.

An educational toolkit and questionnaires are available to teachers, which may be supplemented by a training package on enslavement. Specific activities and tours can be organized for school groups of all levels, including film and documentary screenings or traveling exhibitions (featuring the writer Aimé Césaire, the abolitionist Victor Schoelcher, the revolutionary Toussaint Louverture, or the rights of children, for example) based on teacher requests.


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