A Paris Tribute to Josephine Baker

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A Paris Tribute to Josephine Baker
Josephine Baker is no stranger to headlines. Her performing career as a dancer, singer, and actress brought her international stardom, as she broke barriers of all kinds. Her multi-faceted life inspired many — particularly women and people of color. She was a civil rights activist, member of the French resistance, fundraiser for France’s war effort, animal lover, friend and muse to the artists and writers of the time, author, pilot (so rare for women of that era), French Airforce lieutenant, and a mother of 12 adopted children. Josephine Baker: Trailblazer and Visionary. © Carl Van Vechten/Public Domain This past week has attracted a barrage of new Baker headlines, with her induction into the Panthéon on November 30. She is the first woman of color, the first American, and the first performing artist to receive such an honor. The Panthéon: A Monument Honoring the Heroes of France. © Meredith Mullins This recent spotlight has enabled the world to know the depth and nuance of her layered life — to discover more of her story. Her dedication to human rights and freedom in all forms has sparked celebrations around the world — to pay tribute to her and to shine even more light on the continuing struggle for equality and human dignity that is in such focus today. She carried an ideal of mankind. She fought for the freedoms of each and every person. Her cause was that of universalism. The beauty of the human race. Universal equality before individual identity. Emancipation against discrimination. She fought for dignity. She fought for everyone. —Emmanuel Macron (from the Panthéon induction ceremony). In a solemn and moving ceremony, a casket draped in the blue, white, and red of the French flag, was carried up a long red carpet into the iconic Panthéon building, where 80 other French luminaries rest. The ceremony was a symbolic laying to rest, as she remains buried in the Monaco cemetery that keeps her close to her husband and to Princess Grace, who supported her during financial struggles toward the end of her life. The Panthéon Ceremony. Courtesy of the French Embassy for the U.S. on Twitter

Lead photo credit : Photo credit: Meredith Mullins

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Meredith Mullins is an internationally exhibited fine art photographer and instructor based in Paris. Her work is held in private and museum collections in Europe and the U.S. and can be seen at www.meredithmullins.artspan.com or in her award-winning book "In A Paris Moment." (If you’re in Paris, a few rare, signed copies are available at Shakespeare and Company and Red Wheelbarrow.) She is a writer for OIC Moments and other travel and education publications.


  • Beth Gersh-Nesic
    2021-12-02 08:28:51
    Beth Gersh-Nesic
    Thank you so much, Meredith. A superb essay and photos to honor Josephine Baker.