Joséphine Baker enters the Pantheon of National Heroes of France – .

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Joséphine Baker enters the Pantheon of National Heroes of France – .


                La danseuse française d'origine américaine Joséphine Baker sera intronisée au Panthéon, un honneur réservé aux héros nationaux français, le 30 novembre. Cette décision reconnaît son courage dans sa résistance active à l'Allemagne nazie pendant la Seconde Guerre mondiale.
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                                    <p>La danseuse et chanteuse franco-américaine Joséphine Baker, figure marquante de la Résistance française pendant la Seconde Guerre mondiale, sera intronisée au Panthéon le 30 novembre, a rapporté dimanche le journal Le Parisien, citant le président français Emmanuel Macron.

“It’s a yes! Macron said on July 21 at the Elysee Palace, according to the daily, after meeting with a group of Baker defenders, including essayist Laurent Kuperman and one of Baker’s sons, Brian Bouillon Baker.

The dancer and activist, born in Missouri in 1906 and buried in Monaco, will become the first black woman to be commemorated in the French national necropolis in central Paris. Only five women have so far been inducted into the Pantheon out of the 80 people honored there. Baker would join the ranks of Simon Veil, inducted in 2018, and Marie Curie.

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A petition in honor of Baker at the Pantheon – Osez Joséphine (Dare with Josephine) – was launched by Kupferman on May 8, which is celebrated as Victory in Europe Day, and has collected nearly 38,000 signatures.

Baker “shouldn’t be inducted just because she was female or because she was black,” Kupferman said. “She should be inducted because of the acts of courage she has performed for the country. “

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Singer Josephine Baker poses in her dressing room at the Strand Theater in New York on March 6, 1961. PA
    </div><strong>Messages de guerre cachés dans sa robe</strong>

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Josephine Baker became an international celebrity in the 1930s, notably in France, where she settled in 1925 and quickly dominated the cabarets of the country with her big smile, her sense of the humor and his vaporous clothes. In 1937, she married Jean Lion (born Lévy), captain of industry of Jewish origin.

Baker also became a French citizen and a devoted patriot to the country’s resistance against Nazi occupation during World War II. She was able to capitalize on her fame for the war effort: she hid secret messages in her clothes from officials too busy asking for autographs.

Baker also crushed embassy parties to gather intelligence on German troop positions and donated the proceeds of his concerts to the French army. The Château des Milandes, where she lived, became a hotbed of resistance.

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Documents relating to Josephine Baker have been kept for years in the archives of the medieval Chateau de Vincennes east of Paris.
Documents relating to Josephine Baker have been kept for years in the archives of the medieval Chateau de Vincennes east of Paris. François Mori, AP.
    </div>L'idée que Baker prenne sa place parmi les grands de France n'est pas nouvelle.  Le 16 décembre 2013, l'écrivain Régis Debray a insisté pour cela dans un éditorial du Monde.

“The proposal had been sent to [then president] François Hollande, but he did nothing, ”says Brian Bouillon Baker, one of the artist’s adopted sons, in an interview with FRANCE 24.

Dubbed “the most French of all Americans,” Baker’s descendants say public interest and support for her induction was growing.

“Many officials are asking us (Baker’s children) more and more to participate in the inauguration of schools, streets, squares and dance halls, all in his honor. International media are asking for interviews. There are even three films in the making, including a biopic and a documentary, both with big budgets. We didn’t have all this admiration for her 30 years ago, ”said Bouillon Baker.

According to Kupferman, this growing public interest is due, in part, to the fact that Baker’s activism is still relevant today. “She was a free and militant woman, feminist, resistant and militant against racism and anti-Semitism. In a world turned in on itself, where tribalism and racism are exacerbated, its ideals resonate in the hearts of people, ”said the author. Explain.

The singer became an outspoken anti-racist activist after confronting the American system of segregation. In 1963, she participated in the March on Washington alongside Martin Luther King. Dressed in her French war uniform, medals included, she was the only black woman to deliver a speech during what became the height of the civil rights movement.

During her stay in France, she became a lawyer at LICA, which would later become the International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism in 1979.

“The Rainbow Tribe”

Well known in France for her song ” I have two loves “(” I have two loves “), the singer has had many others: during her life, she adopted 12 children of different origins and religions, applying her humanitarian ideals to her own family, who ‘she often called “The Rainbow Tribe”.

“Our family was not just a utopia. Our mother wanted us to be different and united. And on that, she absolutely succeeded, because to this day we are just as connected to each other, ”said Bouillon Baker, who is now 64 years old.

” I have two loves “

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Si tous ses enfants soutiennent qu'elle obtienne les honneurs du Panthéon, ils sont également d'accord sur autre chose : ils refusent que sa dépouille mortelle quitte le lieu de sépulture de la famille dans la petite principauté méditerranéenne de Monaco.

“Our mother is resting next to our father and one of their sons, also near [Princess] Grace from Monaco, whom she loved dearly and who helped her when she was ruined at the end of her life. It is therefore out of the question to move him, ”says his son firmly.

The transfer of his remains is not compulsory to enter the Pantheon. Instead, the Baker family suggested a simple cenotaph in his memory.

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The US-born dancer Josephine Baker, nicknamed "Black venus", and her husband Jo Bouillon walk with their adopted children in 1956 in front of her castle of Milandes, in Dordogne.
The US-born dancer Joséphine Baker, nicknamed “Black Venus”, and her husband Jo Bouillon take a walk with their adopted children in 1956 in front of her Château des Milandes, in the Dordogne. AFP
    </div>Mais qu'aurait pensé Joséphine Baker elle-même d'un tel honneur ?  Selon Bouillon Baker, elle aurait été déchirée.

“She would have been very proud of such an honor from France, just as she was very proud to wear her military decorations (including a knight’s medal of the Legion of Honor, a war cross from World War II, a Medal of the Resistance and a Commemorative Medal for Volunteer Services during the War). But she would also be somewhat embarrassed by such an honor: she was not an intellectual or a political leader, but simply a woman of common sense, ”he said.

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The singer-host of American origin Joséphine Baker received the medal of the Legion of Honor and the Croix de Guerre on August 19, 1961, from the hands of General Martial Valin.
The singer-host of American origin Joséphine Baker received the medal of the Legion of Honor and the Croix de Guerre on August 19, 1961, from the hands of General Martial Valin. © AFP
    </div>Mais Baker a également fait face à sa part de critiques à son époque.  Elle a interprété un numéro de danse avec une ceinture banane autour de la taille, incitant certains à la dénoncer pour avoir participé à une caricature de tropes racistes.

But others have rejected his criticisms.

“To say that it fuels racism is absurd; we must not look at this scene from the past with today’s glasses. It’s nothing but a wild Charleston, not a tribal dance, ”Kupferman said.

“These accusations are marginal; everywhere we talk about her, it is with kindness, ”said Bouillon Baker, adding that the audience’s response was made up of“ expressions of sympathy, homage and gratitude for our mother ”.

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