Josephine Baker becomes the first black woman to enter the Pantheon of France

American-born dancer, singer, actress and civil rights activist Josephine Baker becomes the first black woman to enter the mausoleum of revered historical figures in France’s Pantheon on Tuesday, nearly half a century after her death. A coffin containing handfuls of dirt from four places where he lived will be carried into the building by French soldiers, commemorating their role in the French Resistance during World War II. Follow the ceremony live on Jowharby clicking on the video player above.

Baker is only the sixth woman to be honored in the secular temple of the “great men” – and, belatedly, great women – of the French Republic, which sits on a hill on the left bank of Paris.

She is also the first artist to be immortalized alongside characters like Victor Hugo, Emile Zola, and Marie Curie.

The “pantheonization” of the world’s first black superstar culminates years of campaigning by the Baker family and their fans to give him the rare posthumous honor.

President Emmanuel Macron agreed to the request in August to acknowledge the fact that Baker’s “entire life was dedicated to the dual pursuit of freedom and justice,” his office said last week.

The extraordinary life of Josephine Baker © Creative Department – France Médias Monde

Baker is buried in Monaco, where her body will remain.

During Tuesday’s ceremony, a coffin containing handfuls of dirt from four places where he lived: the American city of St. Louis, where he was born; Paris, her “second love”; the Château de Milandes where he lived in southwestern France; and Monaco – will be placed in the tomb reserved for her in the crypt of the Pantheon.

The coffin will be brought into the building by members of the French air force, in commemoration of their role in the French Resistance during World War II.

( Jowharwith AFP)

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