This Tuesday, November 30, Josephine Baker enters the Pantheon. Among the guests to honor the memory of the artist and activist: Prince Albert of Monaco, present for an excellent reason.
Josephine Baker enters the Pantheon. This Tuesday, November 30, the artist and activist will be symbolically inducted into this Parisian monument. A symbol, since she will be the first black woman and only the sixth woman. But in reality, Josephine Baker’s coffin will enter the mausoleum of the Montagne Sainte-Geneviève almost empty, since it will not contain her remains but earth taken from her favorite places: Saint-Louis, her birthplace, Paris where she built her career, the Dordogne where she raised her children and the cemetery of Monaco. Because yes, it is indeed on the Rock that Josephine Baker rests since 1975, alongside her last husband and one of her children. It is to honor her link with the principality that Prince Albert II will be present at her pantheonization ceremony.
The story of Josephine Baker cannot be told without mentioning her strong link with Monaco. After World War II, the artist first moved to the estate of Les Milandes with her then husband and the twelve children they adopted. But this castle ruined the family. To try to save it, Josephine Baker had launched an appeal for help, heard by Brigitte Bardot and Princess Grace. The wife of Prince Rainier then installed the tribe of the artist on the French Riviera, in Roquebrune. It was also with the help of the actress that Josephine Baker was able to return to the stage for a farewell tour. In 1974, it was during this tour that she was struck down by a stroke at the age of 69. Years later, the son of Princess Grace continues to honor the memory of this woman who meant so much.
Prince Albert: “She was gentle, very kind to everyone”
This Monday, November 29, Prince Albert actually participated in a ceremony in her honor in Monaco. With one of Josephine Baker’s children, the sovereign evoked “the courage of the granddaughter of slaves” as a resistance fighter during the Second World War and emphasized “the ideal of universal brotherhood and its corollary, the fight against racial segregation, of which Josephine is a symbol. This Tuesday, November 30, he will therefore be at the Pantheon to welcome the cenotaph – a coffin that contains no body – of Josephine Baker. “I remember a lady with great elegance, kindness and generosity. She was gentle, very kind to everyone and especially extraordinary with her children,” he recalled to Sud-Ouest. Very kind also with my sisters and me.”