TOP News

World: Josephine Baker to be first black woman immortalised in France's Pantheon

Inspired France run rings around tired All Blacks

  Inspired France run rings around tired All Blacks Peato Mauvaka continued his remarkable scoring form as France handed New Zealand a stinging 40-25 defeat.It was the last match of the year for both, and with 20 minutes left at Stade de France they had three tries each, and there were only two points in it.

US-born singer-entertainer Josephine Baker poses in Paris in the 1920s © - US-born singer-entertainer Josephine Baker poses in Paris in the 1920s

Josephine Baker, the French-American dancer, singer and actress who mesmerised France with performances mocking colonialism and later joined the French Resistance, will become the first black woman to be immortalised in France's Pantheon mausoleum Tuesday.

Baker will be just the sixth woman to join the around 80 great national figures of French history in the secular temple on Paris's Left Bank.

She will also be the first showbiz figure to be honoured with a symbolic spot in the secular sanctuary, final resting place of a long list of luminaries from the worlds of politics, culture and science, including Victor Hugo, Emile Zola and Marie Curie.

Model Mom! Martha Hunt Welcomes 1st Baby With Fiance Jason McDonald

  Model Mom! Martha Hunt Welcomes 1st Baby With Fiance Jason McDonald Model Mom! Martha Hunt Welcomes 1st Baby With Fiance Jason McDonald The mom-to-be continued showing her bare bump via social media, from relaxing on a pool float in July to showing her 25-week silhouette later that same month. “Pregnancy brain is real,” the expectant star captioned the latter. Gallery: Kathryn Dennis, Thomas Ravenel Reunite for Son Saint's 6th Birthday: Photos (US Weekly) 1/8 SLIDES © Shutterstock (2) Crushing coparenting! Exes Kathryn Dennis and Thomas Ravenel sweetly celebrated son Saint’s 6th birthday together.

The "pantheonisation" of the world's first black female superstar, who campaigned for civil rights alongside Martin Luther King, caps years of campaigning by her family and a group of intellectuals for her to be given the rare posthumous honour.

French President Emmanuel Macron in August finally granted the request "because she's a woman who was born black and American in a closed society... who became the incarnation of the Enlightenment values of the French Republic throughout her life," his office explained this week.

French-American dancer and singer Josephine Baker (pictured two weeks before her death in 1975) will be the first black woman to be immortalised in France's Pantheon mausoleum © PIERRE GUILLAUD French-American dancer and singer Josephine Baker (pictured two weeks before her death in 1975) will be the first black woman to be immortalised in France's Pantheon mausoleum

"She's a woman whose whole life was dedicated to the twin quest for liberty and justice," an official at the presidency added.

for Rokhaya Diallo, Josephine Baker at the Pantheon "does not erase the omnipresent racism in France»

 for Rokhaya Diallo, Josephine Baker at the Pantheon © AFP Even if Josephine Baker deserves to enter the Pantheon according to Rokhaya Diallo, "France should not take advantage of this moment for Welcoming his treatment of people of color ". "What a shame! "," Do not let this woman obsessed with the breed The memory of Joséphine Baker "," A viperin text "... This is only a handful of the comments inspired by the tribune that the anti-racist activist and feminist, Or at least that comes as such, publishes in the Washington Post .

- 'France made me' -

Born Freda Josephine McDonald into extreme poverty in Missouri in 1906, Baker left school at 13.

After two failed marriages -- she took the name Baker from her second husband -- she managed to land herself a place in one of the first all-black musicals on Broadway in 1921.

Like many black American artists at the time, she moved to France to escape racial segregation back home.

The woman nicknamed the "Black Venus" took Paris by storm with her exuberant dance performances, which captured the energy of the Jazz Age.

One of the defining moments of her career came when she danced the Charleston at the Folies-Bergere cabaret hall, wearing only a string of pearls and a skirt made of rubber bananas, in a sensational send-up of colonial fantasies about black women.

A singer and actress as well as dancer, she adopted France wholeheartedly, taking French nationality upon her marriage to industrialist Jean Lion in 1937.

Empire State Building lights up to honor Josephine Baker

  Empire State Building lights up to honor Josephine Baker New York's Empire State Building lit up in the French national colors on Monday evening to honor Josephine Baker, on the eve of the US-born singer, dancer and rights activist's entrance to the Pantheon in Paris. Baker took French nationality in 1937. Nearly half a century after her death, on Tuesday a coffin containing earth from four places Baker lived will be placed in a tomb assigned to her in the Pantheon's crypt.

She would go on to divorce him and remarry twice more, adopting 12 children along the way.

At the outbreak of World War II, she joined the French Resistance against Nazi Germany, becoming a lieutenant in the Free French air force's female auxiliary corps.

She became a spy for France's wartime leader-in-exile General Charles de Gaulle and used her people skills and contacts to get information on the plans of Italian fascist leader Benito Mussolini.

"France made me who I am," she said later. "Parisians gave me everything... I am prepared to give them my life."

- 'True anti-racist' -

Throughout her life she fought discrimination, adopting children from different ethnic backgrounds to form a "rainbow" family at her chateau in southwest France.

Pascal Bruckner, a novelist who campaigned for her to be given a coveted spot under the famous dome of the Pantheon, said Baker "is a symbol of a France that is not racist."

"Josephine Baker is a true anti-racist, a true anti-fascist," he told AFP in an interview earlier this year.

Baker died on April 12, 1975, aged 68, from a brain haemorrhage, days after a final smash-hit cabaret show in Paris celebrating her half-century on the stage.

She is the second woman to be inducted by Macron into the Pantheon after former minister Simone Veil, who survived the Holocaust to fight for abortion rights and European unity.

Macron's former mentor and predecessor Francois Hollande had refused calls to immortalise Baker in the former church, which was transformed into a temple to "great men" after the French Revolution.

"He thought it was a daft idea," one of Macron's advisors confided.

In a sign of the affection in which Baker is still held in France, there was no public criticism of the decision to honour her, including from far-right commentators that are generally scathing of anti-racism gestures.

A symbolic tomb will be carried into the Pantheon by members of the French air force, a nod to her role in the wartime Free French air force.

Baker's remains will however remain in Monaco, where she is buried.

leb-cb/sjw/ah

What to do in Paris on the weekend of 3, 4 and 5 December? .
This weekend, we strap the skates, it is full of gift ideas, visiting a famous landmark and opens the season squeegees (if not already). © DaLiu / iStock Photo illustration Flirting with speed Behind its large windows in Christmas colors, the Galeries Lafayette Haussmann offer a more original experience. Housed on the fourth floor, a dance roller skating rink is open to children of all ages.

See also