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Josephine Baker (Dancing Queen) – BLACK HISTORY PROFILES – 2013 (Unchained Hearts) – January 29, 2013

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Josephine Baker
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Josephine Baker (Dancing Queen)

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By: Bobbie Jones

J Baker 7She was told that she was too tall, too black, too lanky and too ugly, and funny looking to boot – these were just some of the terms used to describe “Ms. Banana Dance.” As she was later known as, but while growing up she was insulted, teased and made to feel bad about the way she looked. But as a young girl Josephine broke away from those that tried to enslave her with their limited minds and went on to become the most celebrated American/French performer of her time and she helped make life a little better for others along the way – Now, that’s my definition of a true hero.

J Baker 10Josephine Baker was born on June 3, 1906 in St. Louis Missouri and her birth name was Freda Josephine McDonald but that was later changed to suite her career choice and what a choice it was. BecauseJ Baker 4 Josephine and her family were poor her mother Carrie McDonald and father, Eddie Carson sent her to work for a white lady doing laundry by the time she was 8 years old. Well, if you can only imagine this is where Josephine would suffer most of the abusive scars she would carry throughout her life.

To say that Josephine was not treated well by the lady she went to do laundry for would be an understatement. Josephine was burned with scolding hot water, cigarettes and tortured with any object handy if the laundry was not done just so. But the most damaging harm was done to her spirit – she was called names made to feel ugly and unworthy and told on many occasions she would never amount to anything.

Josephine Broke Free

Josephine had to live on the street once she ran away from that abusive situation, she dropped out of school but she knew in her mind that life had to be better than that and she was going to find and make a way. Well, with a lot of determination, prayer and a lot of talent, Josephine began to do street dancing to earn a living and by the time she was 15 she was spotted by a scout and had a gig with Vaudeville. Josephine was on her way and as far as she was concerned she was never going back.

As the last leg of the chorus line in her Vaudeville show she had a comedic role and she played it to the hill, if she was suppose to be funny looking in the eyes of her abuses she was going to take that and use it for all it was worth. And although Josephine beauty may have been questioned by some her heart, talent and spirit made her star shine brighter than any “hater” could ever extinguish.

Paris Bound

By the time 1925 rolled around Josephine Baker was in Paris making movies and recording records. Fed up with the racism and indignities she had to suffer in America once in France she became fluent in French and with help from her manager Giuseppe Pepito Abatino, devoted herself to the Country that fell in love with her and gave her the chance to live her dreams out to the fullest.

In 1934 the movie Zouzou came out and it stared the first African American female performer ever to be placed in a major motion picture, and her name was Josephine Baker. How’s that for someone who will never amount to anything. Blazing trails and kicking tales (lies) along the way – that was Josephine Baker.

Serving Her Country

Now, that Josephine Baker was famous it was time to serve her country and she did so the way she did everything in style. Being a performer gave Josephine great leeway and during WWII she was able to move around undetected and help out the French Resistance by spying on the Germans. She carried secret J Baker 9messages written in invisible ink on her sheet music and when she went to parties and black-tie functions she kept her ears open for any information she could pass on to help out her country. She had a home in the South of France that housed refugees of the war and she did all this while still performing and doing shows for the troops. After the war Josephine received the highest French military honor bestowed for her bravery – the Croix de Guerre.

She Suffered Lost

Work was not Josephine’s only outlet she love children and family but in trying to have that family she suffered miscarriages and was forced to have an emergency hysterectomy. That did not stop her love of children she just went on a mission to have as many children from different backgrounds as she could get by adopting. She called them the rainbow tribe. Children from every walk of life lived and were loved by Josephine and her husband in her beautiful château – she adopted 12 children in all.

America soon came to love Josephine just as the rest of the world but not before she made sure she would not play to any segregated crowds or perform anywhere blacks were not welcomed. That’s right she plotted her own civil rights movement right in the heart of America and as she did so America turned on her but she was a force to be reckoned with and America knew it.

Josephine in her lifetime escaped poverty, abuse, hatred and jealousy to go on and become the Greatest Performer of her time and Highest paid. She fought for the French Resistance, racism and bigotry all with a smile on that beautiful face and a song in her heart. Josephine was caring, compassionate and courageous all at a time when blacks were considered to be second class citizens. Well, Josephine was second to none and her life’s work is a reminder that heroes come in many and varied forms.

Thank you Ms. Josephine Baker for showing the world what a smile can do and what it means to be a true hero by standing up for those that were unable to do so for themselves.

A Bobbiegirl Ad

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Photos Provided by:  Google Images on the Web

– Videos Provided by:  You Tube

– Unchained Hearts Promo Provided by: Bobbie Jones / via You Tube

Copyright (c) – Ms. Bobbie Jones – January 29, 2013

– All Rights Reserved

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