Josephine Baker becomes first Black woman honored at Paris' Pantheon in 'historic' moment

Asia's Tech News Daily

PARIS — France inducted U.S.-born entertainer, anti-Nazi spy and civil rights activist Josephine Baker into the Pantheon on Tuesday, the first Black woman to receive the nation’s highest honor.

Baker’s voice resonated through streets of Paris’ famed Left Bank as recordings from her extraordinary career kicked off an elaborate ceremony at the domed Pantheon monument. Baker joined other French luminaries honored at the site, including philosopher Voltaire, scientist Marie Curie and writer Victor Hugo.

Military officers carried her cenotaph along a red carpet that stretched for four blocks of cobblestoned streets from the Luxembourg Garden to the Pantheon. Baker’s military medals lay atop the cenotaph, which was draped in the French tricolor flag and contained soils from her birthplace in Missouri, from France, and from her final resting place in Monaco. Her body will stay in Monaco at the request of her family.

French President Emmanuel Macron paid tribute in a speech to “a war hero, fighter, dancer, singer, a Black woman defending Black people but first of all, a woman defending humankind. American and French. Josephine Baker fought so many battles with lightness, freedom, joy.”

Previously:Josephine Baker becomes the first Black woman given Paris burial honor

Josephine Baker becomes first Black woman honored at Paris' Pantheon in 'historic' moment

Nine of Baker’s children attended the ceremony

Baker was also the first American-born citizen and the first performer to be immortalized into the Pantheon.

She is not only praised for her world-renowned artistic career but also for her active role in the French Resistance during World War II, her actions as a civil rights activist and her humanist values, which she displayed through the adoption of her 12 children from all over the world. Nine of them attended Tuesday’s ceremony among the 2,000 guests.

The tribute started with Baker’s song “Me revoilà Paris” (“Paris, I’m Back”). The French army choir sang the French Resistance song, prompting strong applause from the public.

Her signature song “J’ai deux amours” (“Two Loves”) was then played by an orchestra accompanying Baker’s voice on the Pantheon plaza.

During a light show displayed on the monument, Baker could be heard saying “I think I am a person who has been adopted by France. It especially developed my humanist values, and that’s the most important thing in my life.”

The homage included Martin Luther King’s famed “I have a dream” speech. Baker was the only woman to speak before him at the 1963 March on Washington.

Josephine Baker becomes first Black woman honored at Paris' Pantheon in 'historic' moment

Baker moved to France to escape racism

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Baker became a megastar in the 1930s, especially in France, where she moved in 1925 as she was seeking to flee racism and segregation in the United States.

“The simple fact to have a Black woman entering the pantheon is historic,” Black French scholar Pap Ndiaye, an expert on U.S. minority rights movements, told The Associated Press.

“When she arrived, she was first surprised like so many African Americans who settled in Paris at the same time … at the absence of institutional racism. There was no segregation … no lynching. (There was) the possibility to sit at a cafe and be served by a white waiter, the possibility to talk to white people, to (have a) romance with white people,” Ndiaye said.

“It does not mean that racism did not exist in France, but French racism has often been more subtle, not as brutal as the American forms of racism,” he added.

Baker was among several prominent Black Americans, especially artists and writers, who found refuge in France after the two World Wars, including famed writer and intellectual James Baldwin.

They were “aware of the French empire and the brutalities of French colonization, for sure. But they were also having a better life overall than the one they had left behind in the United States,” Ndiaye, who also directs France’s state-run immigration museum, told The Associated Press.

Josephine Baker becomes first Black woman honored at Paris' Pantheon in 'historic' moment

Baker’s banana-skirt dance routines were controversial

Baker quickly became famous for her banana-skirt dance routines and wowed audiences at Paris theater halls.

Her shows were controversial, Ndiaye stressed, because many anti-colonial activists believed she was “the propaganda for colonization, singing the song that the French wanted her to sing.”

Baker knew well about “the stereotypes that Black women had to face,” he said. “She also distanced herself from these stereotypes with her facial expressions … a way for her to laugh in some ways at the people watching her.”

“But let’s not forget that when she arrived in France she was only 19, she was almost illiterate … She had to build her political and racial consciousness,” he said.

Josephine Baker becomes first Black woman honored at Paris' Pantheon in 'historic' moment

‘The first Black superstar’

Baker became a French citizen after her marriage to industrialist Jean Lion in 1937. The same year, she settled in southwestern France, in the castle of Castelnaud-la-Chapelle.

“Josephine Baker can be considered to be the first Black superstar. She’s like the Rihanna of the 1920s,” said Rosemary Phillips, a Barbados-born performer and co-owner of Baker’s park in southwestern France.

Phillips said one of the ladies who grew up in the castle and met with Baker said: “Can you imagine a Black woman in the 1930s in a chauffeur-driven car — a white chauffeur — who turns up and says, ‘I’d like to buy the 1,000 acres here?'”

In 1938, Baker joined what is today called LICRA, a prominent antiracist league and longtime advocate for her entry in the Pantheon.

The next year, she started to work for France’s counter-intelligence services against Nazis, notably collecting information from German officials who she met at parties. She then joined the French Resistance, using her artistic performances as a cover for spying activities during World War II.

In 1944, Baker became second-lieutenant in a female group in the Air Force of the French Liberation Army of Gen. Charles De Gaulle.

After the war, she got involved in anti-racist politics and civil rights struggle, both in France and in the United States.

Toward the end of her life, she ran into financial trouble, was evicted and lost her properties. She received support from Princess Grace of Monaco, the U.S.-born actress who offered Baker a place for her and her children to live.

Contributing: Jamey Keaten, Arno Pedram and Bishr Eltouni, Associated Press

Internet Explorer Channel Network
Asia's Tech News Daily
News Related

OTHER NEWS

It's official: Grammys move to Las Vegas for rescheduled awards in April

It will be a new-look Grammys when the 64th annual ceremony takes place April 3. Postponed from Jan. 31 due to the surge in omicron cases, the heralded music awards ... Read more »

Former NBA player Rex Chapman joins CNN's new streaming service

Former NBA player, podcaster and social media star Rex Chapman will have a new title to add to his list this spring as the host of a show on CNN’s ... Read more »

Ex-boyfriend arrested in death of Houston teen shot 22 times

On Location: January 18, 2022 Catch up on the developing stories making headlines.The Associated Press HOUSTON — An ex-boyfriend has been arrested and charged with murder in the killing of ... Read more »

Rupert Grint calls J.K. Rowling relationship 'tricky': What 'Harry Potter' cast says about author

After starring in eight “Harry Potter” films as Ron Weasley, Rupert Grint says J.K. Rowling has become like a family member to him — though perhaps a problematic one. During ... Read more »

Truist cuts down overdraft fees, joining other big banks

NEW YORK — Truist Bank said Tuesday it is reducing its overdraft fees, becoming the latest big bank to announce an overhaul of overdraft policies that often impact the most ... Read more »

NBA power rankings: Grizzlies vault into the Top 5, but Suns, Warriors remain 1-2

Not good. Not good at all. Brooklyn likely will be without Kevin Durant for a considerable amount of time after he suffered a left knee sprain in Saturday’s win over ... Read more »

Lazio beats Udinese 1-0 to set up quarterfinal against Milan

MILAN (AP) — Lazio reached the quarterfinals of the Italian Cup with a 1-0 win over Udinese after extra time in Rome on Tuesday. Substitute Ciro Immobile scored in the ... Read more »

Ford, ADT form venture to make vehicle security products

The Associated PressFILE – In this April 25, 2021 file photograph, the blue oval logo of Ford Motor Company is shown in east Denver. Ford and security company ADT have ... Read more »

WH: Russia could 'at any point' attack Ukraine

White House press secretary Jen Psaki underscored the urgency as tensions between the US and Russia continue to rise. “We’re now at a stage where Russia could at any point ... Read more »

Report: Mandatory Olympic app has serious security flaws

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A smartphone app that athletes and others attending next month’s Winter Games in Beijing must install has glaring security problems that could expose sensitive data to ... Read more »

NAACP Image Award nominations: 'The Harder They Fall,' 'Insecure,' 'H.E.R' top list

LOS ANGELES — Netflix could be a dominant force at next month’s NAACP Image Awards. The streaming giant on Tuesday emerged with a leading 52 nominations including the film “The ... Read more »

Felony charges are 1st in a fatal crash involving Autopilot

DETROIT — California prosecutors have filed two counts of vehicular manslaughter against the driver of a Tesla on Autopilot who ran a red light, slammed into another car and killed ... Read more »

Stephen A. Smith returns to 'First Take,' talks COVID-19 battle: 'I didn't know if I was gonna make it'

Stephen A. Smith returned to ESPN’s “First Take” on Monday after battling COVID-19, which the commentator said, “I wouldn’t be here” wouldn’t be here if he wasn’t vaccinated as he ... Read more »

Christian Democrat Roberta Metsola of Malta has been elected president of the European Union's parliament

BRUSSELS — Christian Democrat Roberta Metsola of Malta has been elected president of the European Union’s parliament. Read more »

Analysis: Teen Slam champ Raducanu still winning, learning

At this time two years ago, Emma Raducanu was participating in the Australian Open junior event — and losing in the first round. A year ago, she was keeping tabs ... Read more »

Poland expects highest infection rate so far in new wave

Hospitals overwhelmed across US, though COVID-19 cases receding in Northeast From Massachusetts to central California, hospitals say they are short-staffed and are pleading with the public on social media to ... Read more »

JD, Shopify to help US merchants sell in China

The Associated PressVisitors walk past a booth for Chinese online retailer JD.com at the China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) in Beijing, Friday, Sept. 3, 2021. JD.com Inc., ... Read more »

UK man admits exploiting worker kept in shed for 40 years

LONDON — A man in northwest England pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiring to exploiting a vulnerable victim who was found living in a garden shed that had been his home ... Read more »

TikTok helps woman find her mystery lover — and his wife

Renee tells The Post she was “shocked” to find out her would-be beau was actually a married man. NYPost Composite He was found alright. When a Pennsylvania woman named Mica ... Read more »

Hammon: It was easy decision to leave NBA, return to WNBA

Becky Hammon said she has always followed her heart and not worried about what other people think of her career decisions. There were concerns when she chose to play at ... Read more »

Nick Saban, Jerry West, other West Virginia sports figures sign election integrity letter to Sen. Joe Manchin

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday began debate on a voting rights bill passed last week in the House of Representatives. One of the key actors in whether the legislation can ... Read more »

Opinion: NFL's MLK Jr. tributes ring hollow as Black coaches remain subjected to unfair hiring practices

A round of slow claps for the NFL and its 32 teams for their displays of respect for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday. What unity the social media ... Read more »

Russia moves more troops westward amid Ukraine tensions

Tensions escalate between Russia and the West Secretary of State Antony Blinken reaffirmed U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty in the face of increasing Russian threats. The Associated Press MOSCOW — ... Read more »

Under-fire Boris Johnson denies lying about lockdown parties

British prime minister apologizes for party during lockdown Prime Minister Boris Johnson is under fire after he admitted to attending a social gathering while the UK was under strict lockdown ... Read more »

Israel says it successfully tests long-range missile defense

On Location: January 18, 2022 Catch up on the developing stories making headlines.ABCNews.com JERUSALEM — Israel said Tuesday it has successfully tested a system designed to intercept ballistic missiles outside ... Read more »

US plans $50B wildfire fight where forests meet suburbia

The Associated PressU.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack speaks during a visit to Wheat Ridge Poultry and Meats, a locally-owned and operated butcher shop and meat processor, Friday, Jan. 14, 2022, ... Read more »

Irish mourn slain 23-year-old teacher who was out jogging

The Associated PressSchool children that were taught by Ashling Murphy holds pictures of their teacher outside St Brigid’s Church, Mountbolus, Co Offaly, Ireland, at the end of the funeral, Tuesday, ... Read more »

Former AG William Barr's memoir to be published March 8

The Associated PressFILE – Attorney General William Barr speaks during a news conference in Washington on Dec. 21, 2020. Barr has a memoir out in March, titled “One Damn Thing ... Read more »

MLS Crew names Bernert as senior business executive

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Columbus Crew have hired Kristin Bernert as president of business operations, the latest woman to move into a prominent executive role in Major League Soccer. ... Read more »

At-home COVID test website launches early. How to order free testing kits from the government

Some Americans will be able to order free COVID-19 tests on the new federal government website a day early. While COVIDTests.gov was expected to start accepting orders on Wednesday, an ... Read more »

Jamie Lynn Spears' memoir: What she says about Britney Spears, conservatorship, their parents

Jamie Lynn Spears wants to finally tell her side of the story. The younger sister to pop icon Britney Spears has experienced plenty of tabloid headlines and gossip about herself ... Read more »

Judge blasts 72-year-old cancer patient for overgrown lawn: 'If I could give you jail time on this I would'

A Michigan judge fined and ridiculed a 72-year-old man with cancer for not being able to mow his lawn. Burhan Chowdhury appeared in virtual court on Jan. 10 for a ... Read more »

Golf goes to Netflix and it has competition from tennis

HONOLULU (AP) — Formula One racing got a huge boost in interest in North America through the Netflix series “Drive to Survive.” Netflix now is expanding to a documentary series ... Read more »

Music, Ariana and addiction: Mac Miller's life explored in new 'Most Dope' book

Mac Miller would have turned 30 on Jan. 19. But the rapper, who evolved from Pittsburgh-bred indie artist to platinum-selling star who shared a nearly two-year relationship with Ariana Grande, ... Read more »

Winter woes to continue: More snowstorms forecast this week from Ohio Valley to East Coast

One storm is expected to spread light snow from the Ohio Valley into the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. Another, potentially more impactful winter storm is forecast for Friday and Saturday for ... Read more »

Climate change makes the future of Nordic skiing uncertain

WINTHROP, Wash. (AP) — For the first time in 32 years, organizers of the Rendezvous Cross Country Ski Festival in West Yellowstone, Montana, had to cancel November’s traditional start-of-the-ski-season event ... Read more »

Olympic athletes urged by human rights activists not to criticize China

GENEVA (AP) — Athletes at the Beijing Olympics were urged by human rights activists Tuesday to avoid criticizing China because they could be prosecuted. The International Olympic Committee has said ... Read more »

Rams WR Odell Beckham Jr. makes playoff history, earns $500k in win vs. Cardinals

Odell Beckham Jr. caught a lot of criticism for being the supposed problem in the Cleveland Browns offense before he was released this season, but he’s looked like the playmaker ... Read more »

Column: Boost in Women's Open purse, are men's majors next?

HONOLULU (AP) — The U.S. Women’s Open is nearly doubling its prize money to $10 million, an announcement that was celebrated across golf and genders. The LPGA Tour this week ... Read more »

‘Harder They Fall,' 'Insecure,' H.E.R. nab NAACP awards noms

The Associated PressThis image released by Netflix shows Regina King, center, from the film “The Harder They Fall.” (David Lee/Netflix via AP) LOS ANGELES — Netflix could be a dominant ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic