“I can excuse everything but boredom”*…
Much more conversational coaching at “Women Trying To Politely End Conversations With Men In Western Art History.”
* Hedy Lamarr
As we demur, we might trip the birthday fantastic for Freda Josephine McDonald– better known by her stage name, Josephine Baker– the dancer, singer, actress, and civil rights activist born on this date in 1906 in St. Louis, Mo. By the mid-1920s, the “Black Venus” had become the toast of Paris and a celebrity throughout Europe; in 1934, she became the first black woman to star in a major motion picture (Zouzou) and to become a genuinely world-famous entertainer.
Baker was a vocal opponent of segregation in the U.S.; she worked closely with NAACP and refused to perform for segregated audiences.
Known for assisting the French Resistance during World War II, Baker received the French military honor, the Croix de guerre and was made a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur by General Charles de Gaulle. Her funeral service in Paris in 1975 drew 20,000 people, and she was the first American woman to receive a twenty-one-gun salute from the French government.
[Update from friend Ted Coltman: “Not to quibble, but I thought France, like most nations, reserves a 21-gun salute (i.e., with artillery) for heads of state, including the president of the French Republic. Are you sure it wasn’t a “3-volley salute” by a 7-member rifle party, which would still constitute ‘full military honors’?” Ted may well be right about this– as about so much else. FWIW, my source was this piece from the National Women’s History Museum. Either way– quite a woman.]