1952 February 3

Famed African American Singer Josephine Baker Returns from Paris to Protest St. Louis School Segregation

 

The internationally famed African American singer Josephine Baker returned from Paris on this day to perform in her hometown of St. Louis to protest racial segregation in St. Louis. Baker had refused to perform in St. Louis several times in the past because of its segregated schools. The concert on this night was in support of the Citizens Protest Committee on Overcrowding in the Negro Public Schools.

Baker left St. Louis in 1919 with a vaudeville troupe, performed in New York City, and finally landed in Paris where she became famous with a black dance company Le Revue Negre. By the mid-1920s, she was an international star, living permanently in France.

She visited the U.S. on occasion, and often protested racial discrimination in the country. In 1951 she claimed she was discriminated against by the famous Stork Club night club. Highly publicized protests followed.

During World War II she remained in France and aided the anti-Nazi Resistance. For her contributions, General Charles DeGaulle awarded her the Legion of Honor. She also received other honors for her service to France.

In August 1963 Baker appeared at the historic March on Washington, dressed in her French Army uniform adorned with her many medals and honors.

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