Josephine Baker Becomes First Black Woman Inducted Into France's Pantheon
Nov 30, 2021 1 min, 18 secs
(PARIS) — The U.S.-born entertainer, anti-Nazi spy and civil rights activist Josephine Baker was inducted into France’s Pantheon on Tuesday, becoming the first Black woman to receive the nation’s highest honor.

Baker joined other French luminaries honored at the site, including philosopher Voltaire, scientist Marie Curie and writer Victor Hugo.

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.

French President Emmanuel Macron paid tribute to “a war hero, fighter, dancer, singer; a Black woman defending Black people but first of all, a woman defending humankind.

“Josephine Baker, you are entering into the Pantheon because, [despite being] born American, there is no greater French [woman] than you,” he said.

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.

Read more: These Pictures Show That Josephine Baker Was More Than an Entertainer.

The French army choir sang the French Resistance song, prompting strong applause from the public.

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

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?’”.

She then joined the French Resistance, using her performances as a cover for spying activities during World War II


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