PARIS (AFP) - Aime Cesaire, who died Thursday aged 94, was a founder of a pioneer black consciousness movement in the 1930s who became a leading poet and writer as well as an outspoken critic of French colonialism. Cesaire made it his life's work to promote black cultural identity in his native Caribbean and in Africa, no matter whether it annoyed the French establishment on the left or right. With fellow-writers such as the Leopold Sedar Senghor, who went on to become Senegal's first post-independence president, he invented the term "negritude" or blackness, in a culture in which the term "negro" did not have the negative connotations it later took on in the English-speaking world. Describing himself as "negro, negro from the bottom of the sky immemorial," Cesaire fought colonialism through political activism and poetry which often verged on the surrealist. His flamboyant and deman-ding works are standard texts in universities and are also celebrated in top French theatres. He staunchly backed autonomy, but not independence, for the French Caribbean territory of Martinique, where he was born on June 25, 1913. Cesaire secured an educational scholarship and was educated in Paris at the Lycee Louis-le-Grand before passing an entrance exam for the elite Ecole Normale Superieure. In his student days he and Senghor created the literary review "L'Etudiant Noir" ("The Black Student"). Defining Negritude as "affirmation that one is black and proud of it", Cesaire was a forerunner of the later "black is beautiful" movement in the United States. His ideas were first fully expressed in his long poem "Cahier d'un retour au pays natal" ("Return to My Native Land"), a powerful depiction of the ambiguities of Caribbean life and culture. As a playwright he is best known for two plays, "The Tragedy of King Christophe" and an adaptation of Shakespeare's "The Tempest" targeted at black audiences. In the early 1940s he returned to Martinique and in 1945 was elected mayor of the capital Fort-de-France, a post he held until his retirement in 2001. Just after World War II, Cesaire was one of the main drafters of a law on the status of France's overseas island territories, something he was criticised for by pro-independence groups. He was also a deputy to the French National Assembly for Martinique between 1946 and 1993, initially as a Communist and later as a Socialist and an independent. He was a member of the French Communist Party up until 1956, when he resigned in protest at the invasion of Hungary by the Soviet Union. The following year he founded his own Parti Progressiste Martiniquais. In 2006, he refused to meet French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy in protest at a law in which Sarkozy's conservative party had called on teachers to emphasise "a positive" role played by French colonialism. President Jacques Chirac later had the law repealed, and in early 2006 Cesaire finally agreed to meet Sarkozy, who was to go on to become president. In 1937 Cesaire married a fellow-student from Martinique, Suzanne Roussi. The couple had four sons and two daughters.