The district of Kreuzberg, Berlin. Audre Lorde Street was officially inaugurated on Friday. It is a step towards an inclusive urban culture of remembrance, say activists//Photo: AfricanCourierMedia

Berlin street named after Black activist

A street has been named after the Afro-American poet and civil rights activist Audre Lorde in Berlin.

Audre-Lorde-Strasse was inaugurated with a ceremony on the corner of Audre-Lorde-Str./Muskauer Str on Friday (28 June 2024). Among the personalities who attended the event were Clara Herrmann (district mayor of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg) and Werner Heck (head of the Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg district council) as well as Audre Lorde’s companions and fellow campaigners, including Katharina Oguntoye (historian and founder of Joliba e.V.), Dr Marion Kraft (literary scholar, author and translator), Dagmar Schultz (filmmaker and publisher of Orlanda Frauenverlag), and Tahir Della (Speaker, ISD Bund e.V.).

Audre Lorde Street, Berlin/Photo: Courtesy of Olumide Popoola

Lorde (1934-1992) first came to Berlin in 1984 as a visiting professor of African-American literature and lived in the German capital city until her death in 1992.

The award-winning African-American poet campaigned for Afro-German women and their visibility. Together with a group of Black activists, she coined the term “Afro-German”.

It was Lorde’s encounter with young Afro-German women, such as Katharina Oguntoye and May Ayim, that led to the landmark publication Farbe bekennen. Afro-deutsche Frauen auf den Spuren ihrer Geschichte (Showing Our Colours: Afro-German Women Speak Out).

The book, which describes how Germans of African descent were often made to feel foreign in their own country, led to the formation of the Initiative Schwarze Deutsche, Afro-German Women (Adefra) and other Black groups. Farbe bekennen and the organisations it inspired established the Black German movement of today.

The decision to name the northern part of Manteuffelstraße (between Köpenicker Straße and Oranienstraße) after the Black activist was made in February 2019. However, administrative hurdles and resistance to the renaming from some quarters led to the inauguration taking place five years later.

By naming a street after Audre Lorde, the district of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg said it was contributing to the representation and visibility of Black people and People of Colour in public spaces.

Vivian Asamoah

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