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Shooting to fame at the height of the Roaring Twenties in Paris, Josephine Baker was a Missouri-born dancer who found her spiritual home in France, far from the racial segregation of her native USA. Yet the early years of her career can make for uncomfortable viewing for a contemporary audience, with Baker seemingly complicit in numerous racist stereotypes. But for Ilana Navaro, director of the film “Josephine Baker: The Story of an Awakening”, Baker “took what she had and, later on, turned it into a political tool” – as part of the French Resistance during World War II, and even later as a leading voice in the US civil rights movement.
Navaro joined us for Perspective as Baker was about to become the first Black woman to ever be honoured at France’s Pantheon mausoleum.
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