First black woman to obtain the honor of a funeral in Paris
The remains of the singer and dancer of American origin Joséphine Baker will soon be buried in the historic building of the Pantheon in Paris. Baker, who is a hero of WWII in France, will be the first black woman to achieve the country’s highest honor.
The official residence of French President Emmanuel Macron confirms that the ceremony will take place on November 30 at the Pantheon.
Scientist Marie Curie, thinker Voltaire, writer Victor Hugo and other respected French people are buried in the Pantheon.
After Baker’s death in 1975, she was buried in Monaco, a city-state in southern France. She was dressed in French military clothing with the medals she got for her work in the French Resistance.
The French Resistance was a group of French men and women who fought against the Nazi occupation of France during World War II.
Baker was born in the city of St. Louis in the US state of Missouri. She moved to France in 1925 to flee racism and segregation in the USA. She has become a well-known singer and performer.
Baker became famous in France for her “banana skirt“dance. She performed in front of crowds at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées and later at the Folies Bergère in Paris.
She became a French citizen after her marriage to industrialist Jean Lion in 1937.
During World War II, Baker joined the French Resistance. Her assignments included collecting information from German officials she met at parties. She carried messages hidden in her clothes to England and other countries. She used her fame to travel without being searched.
Baker was also a civil rights activist in the United States. She was one of the official speakers for the March on Washington in 1963. The March is where civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech.
Baker will only be the fifth woman to be honored with a burial in the Pantheon. She will also be the first performer honored.
I am Alice Bryant.
The Associated Press reported this story. Alice Bryant adapted it for Learn English. Susan Shand was the editor.
Words in this story
medal – not. a piece of metal often in the form of a coin with designs and words in honor of a special event, person or achievement
segregation – not. the practice or policy of separating people of different races, religions or ethnic groups
banana – not. a long, curved tropical fruit with a thick skin that is yellow when ripe
skirt – not. a garment worn by women and girls that hangs from the waist down