Joséphine Baker, icon of a proud and reconciled France? On November 30, the leader of the Roaring Twenties, a miserable child of segregationist America, a woman, black, now French, heroine of the Resistance and anti-racist activist, will enter the Pantheon, as revealed The Parisian, Sunday August 22.
“The overall lesson given by Joséphine Baker is that of a conquest of emancipation and freedom by will, the absolute choice of eternal and universal France”, describes an adviser to the President of the Republic. The one who made herself known on this side of the Atlantic in the Negro review at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in 1925, will be the second woman, after Simone Veil in 2018, to occupy a vault among the “great men”, since the arrival to power of Emmanuel Macron in 2017. She will also be the first artist and the first black woman to find her place there.
The idea of including in the Pantheon the interpreter of I have two loves, carried for several years by his supporters, was suggested to Bruno Roger-Petit, memory advisor to the president as well as to the private staff, on May 25, before being presented to the Head of State on July 21 . “It looks good”, would then have affirmed Emmanuel Macron by dubbing the tribute. This sacralization “Has become obvious in recent weeks”, explains an adviser to the head of state. “There is not a choice that Josephine Baker has made that does not echo what we are going through at the moment. She is a mirror in front of which everyone can project themselves ”, he adds.
A few days before the start of the political year, marked by the Council of Ministers expected on Wednesday August 25, Emmanuel Macron calls, with this symbol, to build this “Reconciled France” that he was already calling for during his debate in 2017 against the candidate of the National Front (now National Rally), Marine Le Pen.
“It is always the present which celebrates itself by consecrating such or such tutelary ghost”, wrote Régis Debray on December 16, 2013 in a column at World titled “What if Josephine Baker entered the Pantheon?” “. “From the Folies Bergère to the supreme sanctuary? From the banana belt to the laurel wreath? Profanation! The National Front will accuse. The burgrave will moan. Virtue will gasp ”, he predicted, while recalling the decorations obtained by the Gaullist: war cross and medal of the Resistance.
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