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Josephine Baker

The incredible public figure that was Josephine Baker was born under the name of Freda Josephine McDonald and lived between 3rd of June of 1906 and 12th of April 1975. She had an interesting life as an entertainer and French Resistance agent and also an activist. Josephine Baker got to be known by many names among which the Black Pearl, the Bronze Venus and the Creole Goddess, all of these being representative for her qualities and performance.

She had a poor childhood in St. Luis but she took her life into her hands by the time she was 13 and she became a Broadway dancer. This was only the beginning of her impressive career which was developed mainly in Europe. Her appearance in the revue Un Vent de Folie was a huge success in Paris and what got the most attention was her outfit, formed only from a girdle of bananas. This image of her became emblematic for the Jazz age and the 1920s and changed a lot of perspective on the erotic artistic performances. Her popularity in Europe increased so much and so fast that she was invited by the Government of France to become a spy for the Allies during the World War II. This opened new doors for Josephine, at parties and events in Germany, Italy and Japan and put her in contact with significant officials of these countries. She became an expert at carrying secret information written on notes in invisible ink on her music sheets and she was able to tour across borders freely which made her a valuable person for that time. In 1934, Josephine Baker was the first woman of color who became a world famous entertainer and stared in a major picture, Marc Allegret’s movie Zouzou. She was a complex figure and had an intense personality. Her talent was based on her dancing and her artistic appearances which she successfully mixed with her sexuality in order to not just get politicly and socially involved in the issues of her time but also to change the view on the sex industry and increase the freedom in this aspect for other performers who followed her steps and are still doing so nowadays. After conquering Europe and its major Capitals, Josephine returned to New York for a performance at an American event and she disliked tremendously the segregation laws that were still being applied in the country. She decided to develop her political involvement and became a civil rights leader along with Martin Luther King Jr. in the March on Washington. Her performance as a civil right leader got noticed and appreciated fast and she became the first official female speaker, a career that will continue after Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered. His widow asked Josephine to become the leader of the entire movement but as honoring as this offer was for her, she refused. She knew she would have been the next one murdered if she accepted and she claimed her children needed her more than any other movement. She gave an incredible social example of love and equality to the entire world by adopting not less than 12 children from different countries and entities. Her numerous family was called the “rainbow tribe”. She decided to raise her children in France, at the Chateau des Milandes. Her sexuality, beauty and popularity made Josephine a bride four times along her life and her son Jean-Claude Baker referred to his mother as a bisexual because he noticed she had relationships with both men and women.

Her open sexuality, the eccentric erotic appearances and her strong voice in regard to civil rights, made Josephine Baker a powerful international figure for both the sex industry and the political aspect. She set an example of power and freedom for many women and showed that it is possible to express their confidence and sexuality the way they feel comfortable, on state and during their daily lives. She remains a Creole Goddess until this day, with many fans and followers all over the world.

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