Joséphine Baker at the Pantheon: all you need to know about the ceremony

Josephine Baker at the Pantheon all you need to know

JOSEPHINE BAKER. This Tuesday, November 30, 2021, singer Joséphine Baker will be the first black woman to be inducted into the Pantheon.

[Mis à jour le 29 novembre 2021 à 14h38] To the great women the grateful motherland: Joséphine Baker will enter the Pantheon this Tuesday, November 30, 2021, at the end of the afternoon. A symbolic ceremony, initiated by the family of the artist who died in 1975 and chaired by the Head of State Emmanuel Macron. Joséphine Baker’s pantheonization ceremony will take place this Tuesday, November 30, in Paris at the Panthéon, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

It will be marked by a speech by Emmanuel Macron, extracts of songs or lyrics by the artist, as well as a children’s choir, reports Le Figaro. The ceremony, which will bring together 2,000 guests including the two former Presidents of the Republic, Nicolas Sarkozy, and François Hollande, will be broadcast on France Televisions.

Resistance activist, anti-racist activist, artist … Joséphine Baker will have lived a thousand lives. On November 30, the singer will enter the Pantheon, as Emmanuel Macron’s entourage announced last August. She will be the first black woman to join the great personalities who are buried there and only the sixth woman to receive this honor, three years later. Simone veil, pantheonized in 2018. But why Joséphine Baker?

For Emmanuel Macron, reports Le Figaro, she “embodied the values ​​of the Republic”. Since the Fifth Republic, it is indeed up to the Head of State to decide on a pantheonization, if the family does not oppose it. And the date of November 30 was not chosen at random, since it was on that same day, in 1937, that Joséphine Baker married Jean Lion, allowing her to become French.

A figure of the Resistance and the anti-racist struggle, his entry into the Pantheon is quite a symbol in these troubled times. “Artist, first black international star, muse of the cubists, Resistance member during World War II in the French army, active alongside Martin Luther King for civil rights in the United States of America and in France alongside Lira (today Licra editor’s note) (…) we think that Joséphine Baker, 1906-1975, has her place in the Pantheon “, underlined the petition launched by the writer Régis Debray, at the origin of the movement for the pantheonization by Joséphine Baker.

Joséphine Baker will therefore be the first black woman to join the Republican mausoleum dedicated to characters who have marked the history of France. “This request for pantheonization has been made by the Baker family since 2013”, explains to AFP the entrepreneur Jennifer Guesdon, one of the personalities defending the pantheonization. The latter had been received by the President of the Republic at the side of the novelist Pascal Bruckner, the singer Laurent Voulzy and members of the singer’s family.

However, Josephine Baker’s body will remain in Monaco, where she is buried. A plaque will be erected in the Pantheon. “It will be a cenotaph, with a plaque, as for Aimée Césaire and other personalities,” he added: “The important thing is to mark your presence in the Pantheon”, told AFP one of his children, Jean-Claude Bouillon-Baker.

Because who else, finally, than Josephine Baker could, in 2021, continue to embody the novelty? Joséphine Baker remains to this day one of the greatest celebrities of the beginning of the last century. She will have had a short life, yet punctuated by many chapters. She was just 20 years old when she arrived in Paris. Singer, dancer, actress, resistance fighter, activist and more simply a modern woman anchored in her time, she will put her life at the service of others, of anti-racism and of freedom. The famous leader, revealed in the “Nègre review” where her banana skirt caused a sensation, later became an actress, a fashion icon and anti-racist struggle.

During the Second World War, it will spy, on behalf of the allied forces, taking advantage for example of its international tours to pass secret documents, written in invisible ink on scores. She also carried secret photos of German military installations in her underwear. These acts of bravery allowed her to be the first American woman to receive the French Croix de Guerre. She will also obtain the Medal of the Resistance in 1946, then the Legion of Honor.

Dancer and singer Joséphine Baker was born June 3, 1906 in Missouri under the name Freda Josephine McDonald. Her mother is African American and her father is probably of Spanish origin. Passionate about dance from a young age, she was part of a group of street artists from 1920. For her, the future was elsewhere and she decided to try her luck as a dancer in New York. Luck will smile on her, since she meets a socialite, Caroline Dudley Reagan, who offers her to go to France with her, convinced that Josephine has enormous potential. And Madame Reagan’s foreboding quickly became evident: from her first performances, the Parisian public was enthusiastic. Joséphine Baker, with her banana loincloth and her dances to rhythms never before heard in France, quickly became a Parisian icon. The greatest artists see her as a muse.

When she prolongs her career in the song, it is a new success, with the unforgettable title I have two loves whose words have been remembered: “I have two loves – My country and Paris – By them always – My heart is delighted”. Joséphine Baker’s life is very eventful, and does not end with dancing or singing. The song, released in 1930, whose lyrics were written by Géo Koger and Henri Varna to music by Vincent Scotto., Was a huge success and remains one of his greatest pieces.

In 1939, Joséphine Baker became an agent of counter-espionage in Paris for the Resistance, an activist within the French Red Cross, enlisted in the air force… The high society of Paris welcomed her with open arms , and she receives the Legion of Honor from the General de Gaulle after the Second World War. Obviously very committed to the fight against racism, it supports Martin Luther King in 1963 during the March to Washington. Joséphine Baker spends lavishly and quickly arrives in financial distress. Important personalities then help him to go up the slope, by offering him accommodation or money, such as Brigitte Bardot or the princess. Grace of Monaco. She died on April 12, 1975 in Paris after a stroke, and is buried in the Monaco cemetery.

Josephine Baker had five husbands and many adventures with men as well as women. She marries Willie wells in 1919 when she was only thirteen. She thus permanently leaves the school which she attended when she was not working to provide for her family. Marriage does not last long. Divorce is pronounced in 1920 and Joséphine can finally devote herself to dance. In 1921, she met her second husband in Philadelphia while on tour. Josephine wife William Howard Baker which gives it its stage name. Their marriage does not survive the young woman’s desire to have a career. They divorced in 1923 and Joséphine joined Paris in 1925. The dancer then met Giuseppe Abatino who becomes his manager. Their affair lasts about ten years. She then marries John lion and obtains French nationality. Their divorce is pronounced in 1940. Her fourth husband is the conductor. Jo Bouillon. Their marriage lasted from 1947 to 1957, even if their divorce was not pronounced until 1961. Together, they adopted twelve children. Joséphine Baker’s last husband is Robert brady whom she married in 1973 for a year, before dying in 1975.

In March 1975, Joséphine Baker celebrated her fifty-year career and inaugurated a retrospective in her honor in Bobino, in Paris. In the room, an audience of stars: Alain de Boissieu, son-in-law of Charles de Gaulle, Sophia Loren, Mick Jagger, Mireille Darc, Alain Delon, Jeanne Moreau, Tino Rossi, Pierre Balmain or even Princess Grace of Monaco. She will perform there until April 1975. The day after her fourteenth performance, on April 10, 1975, Joséphine Baker suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and was hospitalized at Pitié-Salpêtrière, in Paris. Plunged into a coma, she died on April 12. The icon was 68 years old. After a military tribute, a funeral for the Madeleine in Paris, then a funeral in Saint-Charles de Monte-Carlo on April 19, 1975, Joséphine Baker is buried in the Monaco cemetery.

“Her body could not resist these emotions and she was struck 24 hours later with stroke. She died after obtaining the biggest reward of her career: her triumph for her back-to-school gala. joy “, confides Line Renaud, at his side until his death, at the 19/20 of France 3.