Josephine Baker became an iconic symbol during the Jazz Age and the Roaring Twenties for her groundbreaking acting career. The legendary dancer and civil rights activist was the first Black woman to star in a major studio production in the 1927 silent film “Siren of the Tropics.” She portrayed a West Indian girl named Papitou who falls in love with a French man.
Looking to escape the racism and segregation she endured in the United States, Baker made her big break into the entertainment world upon moving to France. She later married her husband, French industrialist Jean Lion in 1937.
Now Josephine will posthumously make history once again. Her remains are scheduled to be reinterred at the Panthéon monument in Paris– making her the first Black woman to receive the country’s coveted distinction, noted the Associated Press. Baker’s notable praise comes in honor of her service with the French military (Deuxième Bureau) during World War II as a correspondent in 1939.
Baker collected information about German troop locations from officials she met at parties. The star then left Paris after the Germans invaded France and turned her home in Dordogne département into a safe haven for people eager to help French army officer Charles De Gaulle’s Free French movement.
Baker will officially be laid to rest on November 30, and she will become the fifth woman to be honored with a Panthéon burial. She’s also the first entertainer to receive the illustrious merit.
In the 1950s, Baker became a pillar within the Civil Rights Movement, often writing about the discrimination she faced during her travels. She refused to perform in front of segregated audiences. Her empowering stance helped integrate many live entertainment shows around the U.S., including Las Vegas and Miami.
In 1963, the star walked alongside Martin Luther King Jr. during his March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where he made his iconic “I Have A Dream Speech.”
According to Yahoo News, Baker’s family has been reportedly petitioning for her induction since 2013.
“She was an artist, the first Black international star, a muse of the cubists, a resistance fighter during WWII in the French army, active alongside Martin Luther King in the civil rights fight,” the petition reads.
The family’s campaign manager Jennifer Guesdon said the initiative has “made people discover the undertakings of Josephine Baker, who was only known to some as an international star, a great artist.”
“She belongs in the Pantheon because she was a resistance fighter,” she added.
Josephine Baker Is Still Breaking Barriers Becoming First Black Woman To Enter The Panthéon was originally published on newsone.com