“The March of 83: story of failed equality” and “1983, the equality marchers”: back to the future for anti-racism

“A better world for us

“The March of 83: story of failed equality” and “1983, the equality marchers”: back to the future for anti-racism

“A better world for us. We're not asking for the moon, we're asking to live, that's all,” said Hanifa Taguelmint to a journalist who asked her what she expected from the March for equality and against racism which set off from Marseille on October 15, 1983.

It is the idea of ​​young people from the popular Minguettes district, in Vénissieux (Rhône), who, revolted by police violence, decided to march throughout France to denounce racism and inequalities. When one hundred thousand people arrived in Paris on December 3, a few marchers were received by François Mitterrand at the Elysée, who promised an extension of the duration of the residence permit (ten years instead of one), a law against racist crimes and a project on the right of foreigners to vote in local elections.

Forty years later, what’s changed? “SOS-Racism, “Don’t touch my friend”… It’s one of the biggest political and intellectual scams that we have experienced,” says Hanifa Taguelmint, who testifies in the documentary 1983, the equality marchers, by Nina Robert and Charlène De Vargas, proposed by France 5, this December 3.

Colossal work

The chronological story, stitched together by beautiful archives and the testimony of five walkers, traces this moment of meeting and revolt, but also the political distance remaining to be covered. Above all, through the family ties that the film highlights, it recalls the need to transmit this episode of a very long anti-racist struggle for equality.

“The Documentary Series” (LSD), on France Culture, broadcast on December 4, devotes four fascinating hours to the event, a success. Firstly by the quality of the speakers chosen, who have all produced colossal work on the subjects they address: the listener is nourished by the pedagogy of historians such as Pascal Blanchard, Naïma Huber-Yahi or Paul-Max Morin , sociologists like Marwan Mohamed, Rachida Brahim (author of La race tue deux fois, Syllepse, 2021) or even Nacira Guénif-Souilamas.

Thus resurfaces the taboo history of racist crimes in postcolonial France, particularly in the 1970s and 1980s, where – we have forgotten – weapons circulated massively. We also go back to the origins of ambiguous “city policies” and the political construction of working-class suburban neighborhoods. But LSD reaches the height of its relevance when it questions the gaping “holes” in collective memory and demystifies the identity and racist tensions of a certain France which refuses as much to mourn colonialism as to think and implement the policies that would allow it to live up to the ideals it professes.

“The March of 83: story of a failed equality”. Documentary by Charlène De Vargas and Assia Weber (Fr., 2023, 4 × 58 min), on France 5.