Black Europeans from Renaissance to Present Day
In celebration of Black History Month, the American Academy in Rome is hosting an evening of live events, exploring the historical presence of Black Europeans dating back to the Renaissance. The program kicks off with a spoken-word poetry performance and a song by the rapper and poet Stretch, whose work examines the experiences of young people growing up in multicultural communities in the United Kingdom and France.
A screening of Il Moro/The Moor (2021), a short film by the director, producer, and actor Daphne Di Cinto, will then follow. Lastly, Di Cinto and the historian and professor Olivette Otele will be in conversation with AAR’s Curator-at-Large, Johanne Affricot.
Hidden or neglected, the presence of Africans and their descendants living in Europe from the late 1400s to the early 1600s was an important phenomenon and one that Di Cinto’s film and Otele’s book African Europeans: An Untold History bring to the fore.
Il Moro/The Moor tells the untold story of Alessandro de Medici, the first Duke of Florence in 1530 and the first man of African descent to become a head of state in Renaissance Europe. While unveiling a true story from the past, the film aims to speak about the situations that Black Europeans still experience today and to celebrate the talent of today’s Afro-European community.
African Europeans traces a long African European heritage through the lives of individuals both ordinary and extraordinary, uncovering a forgotten past, from Emperor Septimius Severus to enslaved Africans living in Europe during the Renaissance, all the way to present-day migrants moving to Europe’s cities.
Daphne di Cinto
Black Italian screenwriter, director, actor and producer, Daphne Di Cinto is an alumna of The Actors Studio Drama School and she played the Duchess of Hastings in Netflix’s Bridgerton. Il Moro-The Moor her directorial debut was longlisted for Oscars 2024. Daphne has received the Cultured Focus Visionary in Film Award during the 79th Venice Film Festival and the Leader of Change in Creativity Award at the 2023 Black Carpet Awards. She writes stories about migrations, identity and the female gaze.
Olivette Otele is a Distinguished Research Professor of the Legacies and Memory of Slavery at SOAS, University of London. Her area of research is colonial, post-colonial history and memory studies. Otele holds a Ph.D. in History from Université Paris La Sorbonne, France and received an honorary doctorate in Law from Concordia University in Canada in 2022. She is a Fellow, a former Vice President of the Royal Historical Society and a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales. She was the recipient of several prestigious national and international research grants. Otele was a judge of the International Man Booker Prize, has written numerous scholarly papers and books, and she is also a regular contributor to the press, television and radio programs in Britain, the US and France. She is broadcaster and a consultant for films and documentaries such as Chevalier (2023), on Disney+ and African Queens airing on Netflix (2023). Her latest books include an edited volume, Post-Conflict Memorialization: Missing Memorials, Absent Bodies (2021) and African Europeans: An Untold History (2020). She works with policy makers and other institutions to engage with the histories of colonial slavery and restorative justice strategies (Welsh Government Audit on Slavery and Colonialism and the Guardian Newspapers project Cotton Capital).
Stretch is a Black Welsh rapper and poet whose creative journey started with using poetry as a coping mechanism for mental health. His work examines the experiences of young people growing up in multicultural communities in the UK and in France. His work as a poet features in George the Poet’s anthology, Part of a Story That Started Before Me: Poems about Black British History (Penguin, 2023). Stretch is a passionate, self-taught mix engineer. He has performed in different venues, including for the 10th Anniversary of Festival du Monde en Vues', one of the Caribbean islands biggest film festival in Guadeloupe and more recently at the National Gallery, London. His singles and mixed tapes are available on Spotify, YouTube, Soundcloud and most music platforms.
For access to the Academy, guests will be asked to show a valid photo ID. Backpacks and luggage with dimensions larger than 40 x 35 x 15 cm (16 x 14 x 6 in.) are not permitted on the property. There are no locker facilities available. You may not bring animals (with the exception of seeing-eye/guide dogs).
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