Josephine Baker, born to an Indian and African mother and a Creole father in St. Louis on June 3, 1906, was a talented singer and dancer who got her show business start with the Dixie Steppers vaudeville troupe. Frustrated by the racism she encountered in her homeland, Baker moved to France in 1925 where her sensuous performances with La Revue Negre earned her rave reviews and admiring fans. She returned to America after 10 years in France only to find that racial barriers still prevented her from attaining the same status she enjoyed in Europe. During World War II, Baker became active in undercover work for the French Resistance movement. She later adopted twelve orphans from around the world, calling them her ‘Rainbow Tribe.’ Josephine Baker died in France in 1975 and was buried in Paris with full military honors.
Photo: Library of Congress