Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Picture Perfect Wednesday: Josephine and the Amazing Edible Dreamskirt

Born in St. Louis, MO, in 1906, Josephine Baker started dancing professionally in her early teens. She fled Missouri for Europe by the time she was 17, frustrated by the rampant racism in her hometown.

She quickly became a favorite in Paris revue clubs, and in 1925 she first performed her famous "banana dance" and was catapulted to international fame.

In 1937, Baker renounced her American citizenship in favor of France, as she was deeply disgusted by the many racist government-sanctioned institutions and regulations that existed in American society at that time. Although she occasionally visited the States over the following decades, she made her home in France and Monaco.

Baker always refused to perform in clubs that practiced segregation, and in 1951 she filed racism charges against the famous Stork Club in New York City when she was refused service because she was black. She later was the only woman to give an address at Martin Luther King's famous March on Washington rally.

Baker passed way in 1975.