Celebrating Black Women Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker

Born Freda Josephine McDonald on June 3, 1906, Baker began her career as part of a dance group in St. Louis before moving to New York to perform at Harlem’s Cotton Club. In 1925, she moved to Paris and was a huge success in the Folies Bergere.

Josephine Baker 1926

Josephine Baker 1926


Chasing a Rainbow: The Life of Joséphine Baker

Profile

Dancer and entertainer. Born Freda Josephine McDonald on June 3, 1906, in St. Louis, Missouri. Josephine Baker was an African American performer who found great success in France beginning in the 1920s. She started out as a dancer, performing with a dance group. Baker moved to New York in the 1920s and appeared in the musical Shuffle Along and performed at the famed Harlem hotspot, the Cotton Club.Josephine Baker traveled to Paris in 1925 to appear in La Revue Nègre. She made quite an impression with this show on French audiences. But it was performing in the Folies Bergère the following year that really made her career. She appeared wearing a skirt made of bananas and wowed the crowds with her style of dancing. She later added singing to her act and remained popular in France for many years to come.Josephine Baker returned the affection of French people, becoming a French citizen in 1937. In France, she did not feel the same level of racial prejudice that was prevalent in the United States at the time. In the 1950s, Baker took up the cause of racial equality in America, and was among those who addressed the crowds before the Lincoln Memorial at the end of the 1963 March on Washington.Near the end of her life, Josephine Baker hoped to create a “world village” at her estate in France, but these plans collapsed under financial debts. To raise funds, she returned to the stage. This comeback included a short, but triumphant run on Broadway in the 1970s. In 1975, she opened in Paris in a retrospective show. She died on April 12 of a brain hemorrhage, a week after the show opened

Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker 1926

Josephine Baker 1926

Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker

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