Saint Louis Walk of Fame Star- Josephine Baker
One of 140 stars on the Saint Louis Walk of Fame, this star commemorates the life of Josephine Baker, a world-renowned performer and civil right activist. Baker grew up in St. Louis and later moved to France where she became a famous entertainer and dancer and a supporter of the French Resistance during World War II. Even though she was a French citizen, she fought for civil rights in the United States and was recognized as a global celebrity who used her fame to support progressive more views on race. Josephine Baker's star is located among several other influential residents ranging from Maya Angelou to Ulysses S. Grant.
Backstory and Context
Baker joined the French Air Force in World War II and also spied for the French Resistance by smuggling confidential information. She was able to learn numerous secrets while performing for German troops and she passed this information on by using invisible ink written on her music sheets.
Even though she had grown to love France, Baker returned to the United States and was one of the first celebrities to refuse to perform at clubs and other venues that were not open to African American patrons. She also pushed for an end to segregation at many Las Vegas casinos and influenced other performers from Frank Sinatra to Sammy Davis Jr. who also spoke out against racial discrimination in Las Vegas showrooms. For her stance, Baker lost considerable work and found many of her white fans and show promoters turning against her.
Baker later adopted a dozen children from all over the world. She referred to them as her "rainbow tribe." They traveled around the country to promote social equality and show that racial harmony could exist.
Norwood, Arlisha. Josephine Baker Accessed October 31, 0008. https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/josephine-baker.