Josephine Baker was an African-American-born French dancer, singer, and actress. Born Freda Josephine McDonald in St. Louis, Missouri, she became a citizen of France in 1937. Fluent in both English and French, Baker became an international musical and political icon.
She was given such nicknames as the “Bronze Venus,” the “Black Pearl,” and the “Créole Goddess.”
Baker was the first African-American female to star in a major motion picture, Zouzou (1934), as well as the first 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 offered the unofficial leadership of the movement by Coretta Scott King in 1968 following Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination, but turned it down. In France, she is known for assisting the French Resistance during World War II. Baker received the French military honor, the Croix de guerre.
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