After public outcry and a petition that BBS also signed, it was announced that Josephine
Baker's remains will be reinterred at the Panthéon in Paris. The Panthéon was originally
designed as a temple for great men. The interior is decorated with paintings and mosaics
that depict scenes from French history. It is the burial space for kings, a queen, famous
authors, and other esteemed individuals including Voltaire,Victor Hugo and Marie Curie. It
was recently announced that Josephine will be the first Black woman to have her final
resting space in this historic building.*
Originally, Baker was buried in Monaco in 1975, dressed in her French military uniform
with the medals she received for her role as part of the French Resistance during the war.
(Clearly what one wears is in itself a fashion statement and in this case also a political one.
It's always about the power of fashion for BBS!) Medals and a military funeral... she was/is
clearly a force to be reckoned with! This recognition in Paris is perhaps the highest honor
for Ms. Baker, and is well deserved.
Josephine was the first African American to star in a major motion picture, to integrate an
American concert hall, and to become a world-famous entertainer. She is also noted for her
contributions to the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. She was the only woman to
deliver a speech at the March on Washington. In 2008, she was honored with a U.S.
postage stamp as part of the Black Cinema Series. Today, we also like to celebrate her
fashion panache and style. She is a true Icon.
* Baker's family has decided against moving her body. Instead she will be honored with a
plaque inside the Panthéon.