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Josephine Baker Will Become First Black Woman Buried at France Panthéon

By News Team
Published on September 17, 2021

Josephine Baker Josephine Baker in her banana costume in 1927

Josephine Baker, famed French-American dancer, singer and actor who also worked with the French Resistance during the WWII, will be entered into the Panthéon mausoleum in November, according to an aide to President Emmanuel Macron.

It will make Baker, who was born in Missouri in 1906 and buried in Monaco in 1975, the first Black woman, and the first American to be honored in the hallowed Parisian monument.

A group campaigning for her induction, which included one of Baker’s sons, met Macron on 21 July, Jennifer Guesdon, one of the members, said, “When the president said yes, [it was a] great joy.”

“Panthéonisation is built over a long period of time,” an aide to Macron said.

The Baker family have been requesting her induction since 2013, with a petition gathering about 38,000 signatures.

The ceremony will take place on 30 November, the date Baker married Jean Lion, a Frenchman, giving her to get French nationality.

The Panthéon is a memorial complex for great national figures in French history from the world of politics, culture and science. Only the president can choose to move remains to the former church in Paris, whose grand columns and domed roof were inspired by the Pantheon in Rome.

Of the 80 figures in the Panthéon, only five are women, including the last inductee in 2018, Simone Veil, a former French minister who survived the Holocaust and fought for abortion rights.

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