Josephine Baker to be the first Black woman given Paris burial honor in Pantheon monument

PARIS (AP) — American-born singer, dancer, and French World War II hero Josephine Baker’s remains will be reinterred at the Pantheon monument in Paris.

Baker will be the first black woman to receive the country’s highest honor.

Le Parisien newspaper reported on Sunday that French President Emmanuel Macron will prepare a ceremony for November 30 at the Paris monument.

The Pantheon also houses the remains of scientist Marie Curie, French philosopher Voltaire, writer Victor Hugo, and other French luminaries.

The presidential palace confirmed the newspaper’s report.

After her death in 1975, Baker was buried in Monaco, dressed in a French military uniform with the medals she received for her role as part of the French Resistance during the war, the AP reported.

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Baker shot to stardom in the 1930s, especially in France, where she moved in 1925 as she was seeking to flee racism and segregation in the United States.

The performer quickly became famous for her “banana skirt” dance routines and dazzled audiences at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees and later at the Folies Bergere in Paris.

When she married industrialist Jean Lion in 1937 she became a French citizen.

During World War II, she joined the French Resistance. Amid other missions, she collected information from German officials she met at parties and carried messages hidden in her underwear to England and other countries, using her star status to justify her travels, the AP reported.

Baker was also a civil rights activist. She took part in 1963 in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom alongside the Reverand Martin Luther King Jr., who made his “I Have A Dream” speech.

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