My Black Stars

BookMy Black Stars

My Black Stars

From Lucy to Barack Obama


June 1st, 2021



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People, young and old, need stars to guide them. They need models to construct their own identity, to build their self-esteem, to change the way they see the world and to overcome their own and others’ prejudice.
During my childhood, many stars were pointed out to me. I admired them, dreamt about them: Socrates, Baudelaire, Einstein, Marie Curie, General de Gaulle, Mother Teresa… But nobody ever spoke to me about black stars. The world of my education was white, from the colour of the school walls to the pages of my textbooks. I knew nothing about my own ancestors. Slavery was the only black subject ever mentioned. In this vision, the history of Black people could only ever be a vale of tears and strife.
Can you tell me the name of a black scientist?
A black explorer?
A black philosopher?
A black pharaoh?
If you don’t know the answer to these questions, then, whatever the colour of your skin, this book is for you. Because the best way to fight racism and intolerance is to educate ourselves and to broaden our imaginations.
The portraits of the men and women in this book are a product of my own reading and my interviews with scholars. Starting with Lucy and ending with Barack Obama, and along the way meeting Aesop, Dona Béatrice, Pushkin, Anne Zingha, Aimé Césaire, Martin Luther King and many others. These stars have allowed me to reject the idea that I am a victim, to renew my faith in mankind and, above all, to believe in myself.
 - Lilian Thuram
This translation of Lilian Thuram’s bestselling 2010 volume, Mes Etoiles Noires, by Laurent Dubois (University of Virginia), finally brings his anti-racism work to the attention of an English-language audience (the book has already been translated into several European languages). At a time when the Black Lives Matter movement has reminded us of the need to tell more complex stories about our shared past, this volume constitutes a timely intervention by a prominent black sporting figure.

'At the heart of [The Lilian Thuram Foundation For Education Against Racism's] activities has been the publication of a series of books that do the legwork of imagining the world differently. The first and best-selling of these is My Black Stars [...] now finally available in English. [...] Thuram tackles the persistance of a world view that consistently prioritises white people and white culture, [...] keeping the struggle for equality at the heart of the public debate.' David Murphy, When Saturday Comes

Author Information

Lilian Thuram was born in Guadeloupe in 1972. In 2008, he created a Foundation for Education against Racism, and he is author of several books, including: Mes Etoiles noires (2010), which won the Seligmann Prize for anti-racism, Manifeste pour l’égalité (2012), Notre histoire (2014 & 2016), La Pensée blanche (2020). In an earlier life, he enjoyed a highly successful football career, winning the World Cup (1998) and the European Championship (2000). My Black Stars was written in collaboration with Bernard Fillaire. Laurent Dubois is Co-Director of the Democracy Initiative at the University of Virginia. He is the author of Soccer Empire (2010) and The Language of the Game (2018).

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Our African ‘Grandmother’15
The Black Pharaohs19
A Wise Man from Ancient Greece26
‘Every Life is a Life’29
The Pride and Courage of a Queen33
The Struggle for a New Kingdom39
General-in-Chief of the Russian Imperial Army46
A Philosopher from Ghana49
The Musician of the Enlightenment52
‘Uproot the Tree of Slavery with Me’57
The Liberator of Haiti69
The Poet of Paradise Lost73
The Oath of the Ancestors77
‘A Fist Shot Up to Shatter the Fog’79
‘Ain’t I a Woman?’87
The Greatest Russian Poet91
The First Black American Presidential Candidate95
Smuggling in the Name of Liberty102
Against the Invention of the Races107
The First Black ‘Nègre’ at the École Polytechnique of France113
The First Man to Reach the North Pole117
A Whirlwind on Two Wheels121
The Hell of the Human Zoos124
Back to Africa129
‘No Time Rest, All the Time Make War, All the Time Kill Blacks’137
Champion of the World144
The Black Dragonfly150
A Pen of Rage154
The Silent Resistance Fighter163
The Genius of Black Scientific Pioneers171
‘Southern Trees Bear a Strange Fruit’178
‘Our Time Has Come’183
Returning Africa to Her Children192
Black Skin, White Masks203
The Spark211
Liberty or Death219
A Dream That Changed the World226
A Militant for the African People235
‘I am Super Fast! I Fight with my Mind’242
The Man who Ran the Gauntlet248
From Ten Thousand Days in Prison to … the Presidency253
Interplanetary Voyager262
The Voice of the Voiceless268
The Emotional Truth of Rap275
The Star of Hope283
No, this Map is not Upside Down291
Words that Liberate the Future294