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Thursday January 27, 2022

Josephine Baker becomes first black woman in France´s Pantheon

Baker, who left the US in 1925 to escape racial segregation and found fame in France, is buried in Monaco.

By AFP
December 01, 2021
Josephine Baker becomes first black woman in France´s Pantheon
Josephine Baker becomes first black woman in France´s Pantheon

Paris: French-American dancer, singer, Resistance member and rights activist Josephine Baker became the first black woman to enter France´s Pantheon mausoleum of outstanding historical figures on Tuesday, nearly half a century after her death.

Baker is just the fifth woman to be honoured with a place in the secular temple to the heroes of the French Republic which sits on a hill in the Left Bank of Paris.

She is also the first entertainer to be immortalised alongside Victor Hugo, scientist Marie Curie and 73 other figures from the worlds of politics, science and the arts in a solemn ceremony led by President Emmanuel Macron.

Baker, who left the US in 1925 to escape racial segregation and found fame in France, is buried in Monaco.

To symbolise her entry to the Pantheon, a coffin containing earth from four places where she lived, including her hometown of St. Louis and Paris, was carried into the building by members of the airforce, watched by hundreds of dignitaries and onlookers.

As the coffin was borne along a street covered in red carpet to the strains of Baker´s hit song "J´ai deux amours" ("I have two loves" -- referring to "My country and Paris") images of her life were projected onto the Pantheon´s neo-classical facade.