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Forty years ago, on October 15, 1983, a handful of young people set off from the southern French city of Marseille on a long march north to Paris. They were demanding equal rights and a stop to racist crimes blighting France at the time. By the time they reached the French capital on December 3, they were flanked by tens of thousands of demonstrators. FRANCE 24 brings you a special 50-minute documentary looking back at this historic event and its legacy.

Our reporters caught up with Djamel, Farid, Marilaure and Toumi, some of the protagonists of the 1983 march. Heroes to a whole generation of immigrants and second-generation immigrants in France, they bring us an uncompromising view of their initiative that shook up French society, but also on what has happened since.

Indeed, these “marchers” often take a bitter view of the shortcomings, failures and unfulfilled promises of French politicians, and of the isolation that the inhabitants of working-class neighbourhoods still face too often. Forty years on, the legacy of the March for Equality and Against Racism resonates more than ever in a fractured French society where so little has changed.

English translation: Nicholas Rushworth and Shirli Sitbon

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