The remains of Josephine Baker will be reinterred at the Pantheon monument in Paris, making her the first Black woman to receive the country’s highest burial honor.
Baker was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1906 and went on to have a legendary career as a singer, dancer and entertainer, rising to fame during the 1930s. A breakout star, Baker was known for her banana skirt routine and iconic short hairstyle. She often entertained audiences in France during World War II and became a French citizen in 1937.
During her career, Baker joined the French Resistance during the war, collecting information from German officials she met at parties and even using her star power to carry coded messages to England and other countries.
A global civil rights activist, Baker was among those who attended the historic 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made his famous “I Have A Dream” speech.
At the time of her death in 1975, Baker was buried in Monaco dressed in a French military uniform with the medals she received for her role in the resistance.
NBC News reported that Baker’s remains will be reinterred at the Paris monument which houses the remains of scientist Marie Curie, French philosopher Voltaire, and other notable French figures. Baker will be the fifth woman to be honored with a Pantheon burial and the first entertainer.
According to NBC News, the presidential palace confirmed reports by the Le Parisien newspaper that French President Emmanuel Macron is organizing a ceremony at the Pantheon on November 30.