Josephine Baker Becomes First Black Woman to Receive Paris Burial Honor

Josephine Baker Becomes First Black Woman to Receive Paris Burial Honor

Josephine Baker (Stock Photo)
Josephine Baker (Stock Photo)

The remains of iconic entertainer Josephine Baker will be entered into Paris’ prestigious mausoleum.

This week, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that Baker will be inducted into the Panthéon monument in November, according to The Guardian. The Panthéon is a burial place for celebrated French icons such as scientist Marie Curie and writer Victor Hugo.

Her induction into the Panthéon recognizes her contribution to the performing arts and her courage in actively resisting Nazi Germany during the war.

A St. Louis, Missouri, native, Baker rose to international stardom in the 1930s after moving to France to pursue a career in show business.

She was also a resistance fighter for her adopted country France during World War II, and had a role in the civil rights movement in the U.S.

According to one of her children, while her body will remain buried in Monaco, she will be honored November 30 with a memorial and a plaque.

The burial will make Baker the sixth woman to join some 80 national heroes.

President Macron approved Baker’s induction after a campaign led by her family and a petition with about 38,000 signatures.

Baker’s family had been requesting her induction since 2013. However, the President is the only one who can approve entrants to the monument.

Thanking the President, government minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher said Baker was “a great lady, who loved France.”

One of the campaigners, Jennifer Guesdon, said the decision had raised the profile of Baker, who was “only known to some as an international star.”

Baker was known for being outspoken on issues concerning racism.

In 1963, she took part in the March on Washington alongside civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., when he delivered his historic “I Have a Dream” speech.

She died in 1975 and received French military honors at her funeral.