Franco-American artist and civil rights activist Josephine Baker will become the first black woman to have a resting place inside the Pantheon, CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reported.
READ MORE: Broadway community and fans gather in Times Square to pay homage to Stephen Sondheim Inside Chez Joséphine on West 42nd Street, Baker’s legacy lives on.
Jari Bouillon-Baker, one of her 12 adopted children, runs the Midtown restaurant, located just steps from where she made history as a performer and civil rights pioneer.
Baker was born in 1906 in St. Louis and at age 13 took her passion for dance to New York City, participating in the Harlem revival and performing on Broadway.
She then moved to Paris to perform in a show and France became her home. There, she adopted children from different countries to form what she called “The Rainbow Tribe”.
“She liked to say, ‘You are all the same. You can be one color, the other color. We are all the same, ”said Bouillon-Baker.
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So, when she returned to the United States to perform, she refused to perform for a separate audience.
“For the world to fight, to fight, to fight all the time,” Bouillon said of the fight for equality.
In 1951, Manhattan’s prestigious Stork Club restaurant refused to serve Baker, which sparked protests outside.
In 1963, she spoke at the “March on Washington”, preceding the “I have a dream” speech by Dr Martin Luther King, saying: “I want you to have a chance of what I have. had. But I don’t want you to have to run away to get it.
Jérémie Robert, French consul general in New York, said seeing his name as one of 80 in the Pantheon was supposed to send a message against racism and celebrate Franco-American relations.
“She served in the French Resistance and she even joined the Air Force and so she was also a pilot in the French Air Force. So during the war, World War II, she played a spy role, ”said Robert.
She obtained passports for Jews fleeing the Nazis.
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A hero to all, Baker passed away in 1975 at the age of 68, but her story will continue to be told even louder now.