This is a part of a series of brief posts I’ll be doing that feature women — as writers, creatives, world-changers, or everyday people who’ve made a difference, yet we’ve likely not heard of them.
Today we celebrate Josephine Baker. I was thrilled to draw Josephine’s card not only because it is Black History Month, but also because Josephine was part of the Resistance – the French Resistance in WWII – and she is an inspiration to me as I also resist.
One of the things that appeals to me about Josephine is that she was multi-faceted: a performer who was both comical and sensual, a woman who did not depend on a male partner for financial stability (back when it was even harder to do so), and a woman who vociferously opposed racism. While she saw success in the US as a performer, she was an overnight hit in Paris. One of her most creative costumes was one of bananas strung into a skirt. Josephine was so popular that she was photographed as often as Gloria Swanson and Mary Pickford, and in 1927 she “earned more than any entertainer in Europe.”
Josephine had nicknames such as “Black Venus, “ “Black Pearl,” and “Creole Goddess,” and she hailed from St. Louis, Missouri. Of the many youtube videos I watched, this is one of my favorites.
So, in short: resist. Dance. And be sure to mix some humor into your life amid the stress. As Josephine said, Surely the day will come when color means nothing more than the skin tone, when religion is seen uniquely as a way to speak one’s soul; when birth places have the weight of a throw of the dice and all men are born free, when understanding breeds love and brotherhood.