Josephine baker

Her body is going to be transferred in Paris pantheon.

The Pantheon is the monument where are buried the great people the French Republic wants to celebrate.

Who remembers her in USA?

[Josephine Baker - Wikipedia]

[Panthéon - Wikipedia]

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Why should she be celebrated?

Josephine Baker (born Freda Josephine McDonald, naturalised French Joséphine Baker; 3 June 1906 – 12 April 1975) was an American-born French entertainer, French Resistance agent and civil rights activist. Her career was centered primarily in Europe, mostly in her adopted France. She was the first black woman to star in a major motion picture, the 1927 silent film Siren of the Tropics, directed by Mario Nalpas and Henri Étiévant.

She rose to fame in the Paris of the 20ths, celebrated by Hemingway, Picasso, and so.

She really risked her life during WWII.

When she came back to USA, in the 50ths, she was directly victim of segregation. When she arrived in New York with her husband Jo, they were refused reservations at 36 hotels because of racial discrimination. In 1951, Baker made charges of racism against Sherman Billingsley’s Stork Club in Manhattan, where she had been refused service. Actress Grace Kelly, who was at the club at the time, rushed over to Baker, took her by the arm and stormed out with her entire party, vowing never to return (although she returned on 3 January 1956 with Prince Rainier of Monaco). The two women became close friends after the incident.

In 1951 Baker was invited back to the United States for a nightclub engagement in Miami. After winning a public battle over desegregating the club’s audience, Baker followed up her sold-out run at the club with a national tour. Rave reviews and enthusiastic audiences accompanied her everywhere, climaxed by a parade in front of 100,000 people in Harlem in honor of her new title: NAACP’s “Woman of the Year”.

An incident at the Stork Club in October 1951 interrupted and overturned her plans. Baker criticized the club’s unwritten policy of discouraging Black patrons, then scolded columnist Walter Winchell, an old ally, for not rising to her defense. Winchell responded swiftly with a series of harsh public rebukes, including accusations of Communist sympathies (a serious charge at the time). The ensuing publicity resulted in the termination of Baker’s work visa, forcing her to cancel all her engagements and return to France. It was almost a decade before U.S. officials allowed her back into the country.

As the decorated war hero who was bolstered by the racial equality she experienced in Europe, Baker became increasingly regarded as controversial; some black people even began to shun her, fearing that her outspokenness and racy reputation from her earlier years would hurt the cause. In 1963, she spoke at the March on Washington at the side of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.Baker was the only official female speaker. While wearing her Free French uniform emblazoned with her medal of the Légion d’honneur, she introduced the “Negro Women for Civil Rights.” Rosa Parks and Daisy Bates were among those she acknowledged, and both gave brief speeches.

Incidentally, she was bisexual.

Baker continued to influence celebrities more than a century after her birth. In a 2003 interview with USA Today, Angelina Jolie cited Baker as “a model for the multiracial, multinational family she was beginning to create through adoption.”

She was far from perfect, but what would you want she did more to celebrate her?

OMG! Why not? You obviously don’t know a thing about her. Maybe the better question is, why are you, thatoneguy, so anti-Black? Josephine Baker was an artist, dancer, all around entertainer, and activist. She fought racism. However, she had more freedom in France than in the U.S. At least France knows how to honor her, unlike some people in the U.S. One cannot study dance history or African-American history without her coming up in the studies. She was one of the best and one of the most famous Black people in the U.S. and she was from Missouri. How can one, even in the U.S., not know and appreciate her achievements?

The paper to which Mriana gave a link would need a very careful analysis and i am absolutely sure i will not get enough time for that. I regret it.

Just one or two remarks

First quiet a few French are racists, and many policement among them, it is a truth.

Second : " The sight of a young Black man in sweatpants and braids was sufficiently suspicious "

There are many black people in Paris, included in Quartier Latin where he lived. Even if racial profiling is common for policement and has been criticized, even by some French institutions, the fact that he was in sweatpants and braids was a very strong factor. When i was in my twenties, in the 70ths, i was profiled for police controls, not because i was black, but because i had long hairs and the look of one of the ultra-leftists, which I was, and who were harassed as such in the aftermath of Mai 1968.

I have friends who are mixed colors or blacks, of from North-Africa. Themselves and their children are sometimes controlled by the police as such, but much less than young from some " dangerous suburbs".

And I am very happy that J. Baker be honored in Pantheon.

What country doesn’t have racism? Even South Africa was loaded with racism during Apartheid and probably still does.

Probably, but that doesn’t negate that she lived there because the U.S. was bad enough for her to want to live there.

Who is this “he” that was in sweatpants and braids? Josephine Baker was a “she” and I don’t think sweatpants existed before the '70s and even in the '70s, it wasn’t appropriate to wear sweats in public anywhere for anyone, unless they were in a gym.

what must be understood is that very few black people lived in France, as in any European countries, during the interwar period. Racism was present, but it was limited. And there were no segregation and Jim Crow laws.

To give a famous example, during WWII, many US army units were stationed in UK, waiting for the D day. Many US White soldiers were scandalized because the bars and coffee shops were not segregated. Most of the owners refused to segregate theirs establishments.

One of the most famous French song:

[Pierre Perret - Lily - YouTube]

This song is far from perfect, but it is very famous, each time I hear it, it makes me cry. Pierre
Perret, the author, wrote it in 1977, after attending a lecture by Angela Davis, in New-York. He was insulted by racists for singing it;

English Lyrics:

She looked rather cute, Lily
She came from Somalia, Lily
in a ship full of immigrants
who all came willingly
to cleanup the trash in Paris.
She thought we were all equal, Lily,
in Voltaire and Hugo’s country, Lily,
yet on Debussy’s keyboard still
white keys outweight black ones1,
that’s quite a difference.
She loved freedom so much, Lily,
she dreamed of brotherhood, Lily,
a hotel clerk in Secrétan street
made it clear to her that black people
were not welcome here.
She hauled crates, Lily,
she did all the dirty works, Lily,
she barks to sell her cauliflowers
while in the street her coloured brothers
play along with their jackhammers.
And when they called her Snowwhite, Lily,
she did not fall for the old trick, Lily,
she found it quite amusing,
though she had to grit her teeth,
she would not give them the satisfaction.
She met a handsome blond guy, Lily,
who would gladly have married her, Lily,
but the stepfamily said “we are
anything but racist, still
your kind does not belong here”.
She had a go at America, Lily,
this great democratic country, Lily,
she had to see with her own eyes
that the color of despair
was black even there.
Now in a meeting in Memphis, Lily,
she met Angela Davis, Lily,
who said “come, little sister
together we are less frightened by
the wolves lurking around the trapper”.
So it is to soothe her fear, Lily,
that she too raises an angry fist, Lily,
among all these crackpots
who burn to the ground
these white-only busses.
Still, among your daily strife, Lily,
you will meet a good man, Lily,
and the child who will be born someday
will be the color of love
that nothing can reach.
She looked rather cute, Lily
She came from Somalia, Lily
in a ship full of immigrants
who all came willingly
to cleanup the trash in Paris

Source: Pierre Perret - Lily lyrics English translation

I don’t see how any of this makes her a “hero”. She was an entertainer.

Just summing up :

In a very prejudiced world, she was one of the first black " entertainers" to achieve success.

She risked her life in the Resistance against Nazism, and was awarded the highest French awards for that.

She was a Black activist, and made choices, even if it cost her friends and money, and make her suspicious to FBI. Her work was recognized by the black movement.

She promoted a world of friendship, between people, independently of color religion and so., trusting education.

Icing on the cake, she came of a very poor family and had to leave the school very young.

In her times, no little achievements. Now you are entitled your opinions.

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She was an activist too, but if you feel that way, let’s not honour Ronald Reagan, Shirley Temple (ambassador and politician), and Arnold Schwarzenegger. That’s the short list of course, but they were entertainers too, so let’s not call them “heroes” either. We can continue with other entertainers turned activist and/or politician and not call them “heroes” too.

Are they herose or, at least worth os some praise?

[Víctor Jara - Wikipedia]

[Federico García Lorca - Wikipedia]

I think there are many others, but theses 2 names came to my mind.

If you don’t have fame, how do you make a point about discrimination? If I refuse to go to Mar-a-Lago, nobody cares. If I refuse to perform at a segregated club, it will go unnoticed. The Civil Rights movement gained a lot of traction once rich and famous people joined in. It encouraged white middle class people to also join.

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The civil rights movement doesn’t mean anything in France.

An activist for a foreign movement. And Americans don’t consider entertainers to be heroes.

I’d love to hear what you mean by this, but you’ve never been very good with follow up questions

ROFLMA! They do consider them heroes. Do you think Shirley Temple would have been an ambassador without her previous notoriety? Do you think Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger would have made it politically without their acting careers? Do you think anyone would listen to their platforms if not for the fact they were known before politics? Do you think anyone would have listened to MLK Jr if he wasn’t known as a charismatic preacher? People would have cared less about Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition if he wasn’t known beforehand. Another actor, Danny Thomas, started St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital after he became a successful actor. He promised himself to do that if he became successful. He and his wife travelled the country to raise funds for the hospital. He couldn’t have done that, if he wasn’t a successful actor because no one would care what he had to say. There are more entertainers who went on to do other things in politics and activism and they are considered heroes and role models to this day.

I think, Lausten, that it’s a case of he cares less about Black people. He gets this attitude concerning minorities, especially Black people and Latinos when topics about them come up on the forum. He never did answer my question, "Maybe the better question is, why are you, thatoneguy, so anti-Black? " I don’t think he will because he either doesn’t want to admit he’s racist or he doesn’t want to admit to himself that he is racist. Either way, he’s not going to answer our questions.

What are you speaking about ?

If you are meaning the american civil rights movements in USA, it means for many French people. as a time in History and present. Many French people have empathy for those who suffer.

An remember that in France, universalism is the idea that every human being should have the same rights and an equal treatment, whatever be his sex, his religion, his skin color and so.

And if you refer to France, we never had legal segregation and racial discrimination, except in the dark hours of 1940/1944.

And 3/4 of Jews present in France escaped deportation. Want to know why ? Because French people helped them.

for instance, during the the roundup of the vel d’Hiv, on the 6th of July 1942, the project was to arrest 22,000 Jews in Greater Paris. In total 13,152 Jews were arrested.[An unknown number of people managed to escape, warned by a clandestine Jewish newspaper or the French Resistance, hidden by neighbors or benefiting from the lack of zeal or thoroughness of some policemen.

And movements to fight for human rights were created very soon in France, for instance, la Ligue des Droits de l’ Homme, in 1898, as a reaction to the Dreyfus trial.

Empathy, sense of brotherhood can be important. French Republic motto is :slight_smile:

" Liberté, égalité, fraternité " "Freedom, Equality, brotherhood "

And the French gave us the statue of Liberty (I think there is a smaller version in France somewhere), which these days I sometimes think they need to take it back, because the U.S. hasn’t actually given liberty to everyone as they look with disdain on the poor and immigrants.