JOSEPHINE BAKER ENTERS THE PANTHEON

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August 25, 2021

Dead on April 12, 1975 in Paris, France where she lived, Josephine Baker was born Freda Josephine McDonald. A street artist in Jones Family Band, she later left that band for the Dixie Steppers before meeting with Willie Baker in 1921. This meeting opened the doors to love and the Standard Theater in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The end of this marriage led her to New York where she became a dancer on Broadway. Caroline Dudley Reagan, wife of Donald J. Reagan, commercial attaché of the American Ambassy in France took her to Paris where she became the star of the show “La Revue Noire”

There, she continues the road to the “Folies bergère”. She inspires photographers, painters, sculptors and writers. Her success in music, theater and cinema inspired French counter-espionage who used her to its cause during the Second World War. A role that she will play wonderfully and that will not go unnoticed; France will honor her with a “Médaille de la Résistance Française”, a “Chevalier de la légion d’honneur” and a “croix de guerre”.

This success did not make her forget her origins; She was seen in 1963 alongside Martin Luther Kin during the march for jobs and freedom in Washington. She was also active alongside the Lica [International League against Anti-Semitism]. Fidel Castro and Charles de Gaulle appreciate her engagement. Her friend Grace de Monaco and the french actreess, Brigitte Bardot came to her rescue during her financial setbacks. On April 12, 1975, victim of a stroke, Josephine Baker died at the ”Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital”. She was 68 years old. A prominent figure in the French resistance and the anti-racist movement, Josephine Baker that Picasso called the “Nefertiti of the present times” will enter the pantheon on November 30, 2021 next to the great French men and women. A choice of French President Emmanuel Macron, given her vision of reconciled France is echoed in the explanation of one of his advisers through these words: “The global lesson given by Josephine Baker is that of a conquest of emancipation and freedom by the will, the absolute choice of eternal and universal France”.

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