Josephine Baker (1906-1975) became the first black woman and the sixth woman to rest in the French Pantheon.
In the Romanesque-inspired building in the center of Paris are philosophers Voltaire and Rousseau, authors Victor Hugo and Émile Zola, State Lady Simone Veil, and scientist Marie Curie.
Now there’s room for someone else: the American-born artist and resistance advocate called “Black Flower,” Josephine Baker.
The Black Flower in “Temple of All Gods”
– Yes! President Emmanuel Macron said, according to the newspaper Parisian After a meeting on July 21 at the Republican Palace. A group of dignitaries have been calling for Becker’s inclusion.
The signature campaign, which began in 2018, collected 38,000 signatures for Baker to be included in the building. The Pantheon was criticized for being overcrowded by white men, in an increasingly diverse and egalitarian France.
The campaign called on France to honor the woman who was an “artist, first world star, inspiring cubist, resistance woman in World War II, activist alongside Martin Luther King Jr. and who fought for gender equality in both the United States and France”
Since the time of Napoleon, the cemetery has been the resting place of France’s national heroes, where a “grateful motherland honors their memory”. So far, it was 80 people Pantheon Certificate, that is, it was incorporated into the Pantheon, which by the way got its name from the Greek for “temple of all gods”.
An adviser to Macron told AFP that the ceremony would take place on November 30.
From the slums to the theatre
Josephine Baker was born in 1906 in St. Louis, Missouri. There were cramped conditions in the Mill Creek Valley neighborhood, where young Josephine, dressed in hollow rags, ran between brothels and dilapidated houses.
She married twice before she was 16, and made a living by dancing in the street. But Baker managed to cram himself into one job vaudevilleperformance at St. Louis.
Vaudeville is a form of theatrical performance in which song replaces dialogue, which is often very daring.
She quickly followed up with her work by going to New York, at only 15 years old. Baker eventually made a name for herself there, and in 1925 was recruited to sing in Paris.
Her erotic dance performances were a resounding success. Wearing sandals, jewelry and bananas, she and her leopard Chiquita hypnotized Paris’ artistic elite.
Ernest Hemingway described her as “the most exciting woman of all time”. Picasso tried in several paintings to express her beauty. Surrealist Jean Cocteau became a close friend.
Intelligence Agent Baker
When the war began in September 1939, Becker was recruited by the French military intelligence, Le Deuxième Bureau.
The entertainment star suddenly became an agent when she was tasked with gathering information about German defense from officials she met at parties.
When the Germans invaded, Becker made her opulent castle in southern France a haven for resistance fighters. The world star was given a free pass by the Germans to travel around Europe, and Becker took the opportunity to deliver messages to the Allied forces.
After the war, Josephine Baker was awarded the French War Cross (Croix de Guerre) and awarded the Legion of Honor by President Charles de Gaulle.
Crawl with Martin Luther King
Even after the war, Baker did not stop the struggle for freedom. In the homeland of the United States, the breeds were still separate. Baker was a sought-after star, but he refused to perform for separate audiences.
She worked for the organization that fought for black rights, the NAACP. Among other things, Baker had a featured role in the campaign to rescue Willie McGee, a black man who was sentenced to death on dubious evidence.
In 1963, she participated in the legendary March on Washington with Martin Luther King, Jr. Wearing her French military uniform, she said:
– I entered the Kings’ Palace, the Presidents’ House, and so on. But I can’t go to a hotel in the US and have a cup of coffee. It makes me angry. And you know that when I get angry, I open my big mouth. And be careful. Because when Josephine opens her big mouth, the whole world hears her.
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