Josephine Baker becomes first Black woman to be inducted into Paris Pantheon

Paris, France - Known worldwide as an entertainer and in France as a freedom fighter, Josephine Baker will find her final resting place at the Paris Pantheon on Tuesday.

Josephine Baker became a national hero in France after working with the resistance during World War II.
Josephine Baker became a national hero in France after working with the resistance during World War II.  © IMAGO / KHARBINE-TAPABOR

The late dancer, singer, and icon of the Roaring Twenties will be the first Black woman to be the interred at the site, known as the nation's temple. There, she will join some of the greatest names in French history, including Voltaire, Victor Hugo, Simone Veil, and Marie Curie.

Seventy-five men and just five women have been laid to rest at the Pantheon. Five decades after her death, Baker will become the sixth.

Her remains will be reinterred in a one-hour ceremony attended by relatives and French President Emmanuel Macron.

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Born in the Missouri city of St Louis in 1906, Baker later came to personify the jazz style and was known for her wild dancing style. Dressed only in a banana skirt, she would enthrall audiences at the Theatre des Champs Elysees.

Baker was also a French national hero. During World War II, she first worked for the Red Cross, then in the resistance. For this, she was awarded the Legion of Honour, France's highest order of merit.

Later, she campaigned alongside Martin Luther King against racism in her native America. After her death in 1975, she was buried in Monaco.

Cover photo: IMAGO / KHARBINE-TAPABOR

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