French soldiers carry land containing cenotaphs from various places where the famous black American singer and dancer Josephine Baker lived, covered with a French flag, during her introduction to the Pantheon, where Important figures in French history are honored, in Paris, France. , November 30, 2021. REUTERS / Sarah Meyssonnier / Pool
November 30, 2021
PARIS (Reuters) – Josephine Baker, a famous French-American singer and dancer, will be inserted into the Pantheon in Paris – one of France’s highest honors – on Tuesday, at a ceremony attended by attended by French President Emmanuel Macron.
Baker, who also served in the French Resistance during World War II and was a prominent post-war civil rights activist, will be the first black woman and sixth woman to enter the Pantheon.
Baker, who became a French citizen in 1937, died in 1975 and is buried in Monaco. According to her family’s wishes, Baker’s remains have not yet been moved to the Pantheon.
To represent her presence there, a symbolic coffin was carried to the tomb’s steps containing handfuls of earth from four locations: her American homeland in St. Louis, Paris, Monaco and Milandes, in the Dordogne region of France, where Baker owned a castle.
While the coffin, draped in the French flag, was placed in front of the Pantheon, a choir performed songs from Baker’s repertoire and images from her life were projected onto the building’s facade.
Baker was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1906 but found a lot of his fame after arriving in Paris in the 1920s, as many black Americans stayed in the French capital after World War I and brought American jazz with them. culture.
Once inside the Pantheon, Baker’s empty coffin will be flanked by national symbols of France such as authors Emile Zola and Victor Hugo, philosopher Voltaire and politician Simone Veil.
(Reporting by Benoit Van Overstraeten; Editing by Christian Lowe)
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