Jazz singer Joséphine Baker to be inducted into the French Pantheon

PARIS, November 30 (Reuters) РJos̩phine Baker, famous Franco-American singer and dancer, was to be inducted into the Pantheon mausoleum in Paris on Tuesday Рone of the highest French distinctions Рduring a ceremony attended by French President Emmanuel Macron.

Baker, who also served in the French Resistance during World War II and was a prominent civil rights activist after the war, will be the first black woman and the sixth woman to enter the Pantheon.

Baker, who became a French citizen in 1937, died in 1975 and is buried in Monaco. As per his family’s wishes, Baker’s remains were not moved to the Pantheon.

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Soldiers carry the cenotaph containing soil from various places where the famous Franco-American black singer and dancer Joséphine Baker lived, covered with a French flag, during her enthronement ceremony in the Pantheon, where key figures from the history of France are honored, in Paris, France, November 30, 2021. REUTERS / Sarah Meyssonnier / Swimming pool

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To represent his presence there, a symbolic coffin was carried on the steps of the mausoleum containing handfuls of soil from four locations: his American hometown of Saint-Louis, Paris, Monaco and Milandes, in the Dordogne region. in France, where Baker owned a castle.

As the coffin, draped in the French flag, lay in front of the Pantheon, a choir performed songs from Baker’s repertoire and images of his life were projected onto the facade of the building.

Baker was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1906, but continued to find much of her fame after arriving in Paris in the 1920s, as many black Americans remained in the French capital after World War I. and brought American jazz with them. culture.

Once inside the Pantheon, Baker’s empty coffin will rest alongside French national icons such as authors Emile Zola and Victor Hugo, philosopher Voltaire and politician Simone Veil.

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Report by Benoit Van Overstraeten; Editing by Christian Lowe

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