Joséphine Baker in Paris: Celebrating the Life of an Actress and Activist with John Baxter and Samuél Lopez-Barrantes

Joséphine Baker in Paris: Celebrating the Life of an Actress and Activist with John Baxter and Samuél Lopez-Barrantes


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On November 30, 2021, almost half a century after her death in 1975, African-American singer, actress and wartime Resistance activist Joséphine Baker will receive the most prestigious award the French national can confer when she is ritually interred in the Panthéon. Created in 1791 to honour those who achieved greatness in politics, war, science or the arts, the Panthéon houses the remains of just 72 men and 5 women who have impacted French culture throughout history. Baker will be the first American-born person to receive this honour, as well as the first show-business personality. 

Born in St. Louis, Missouri as Freda Josephine McDonald, Baker came to Paris in 1925 as a showgirl in the Revue Négre and caused a sensation when she was plucked from the chorus to headline the show. Adulated for her uninhibited dancing and vivacious personality, she became one of France’s most popular stage and screen performers. In 1927, she became the first black actress to star in a major motion picture, a silent film called Siren of the Tropics. And when Germany invaded France in 1940, she used her star-power to aid the Resistance, for which she was honoured with the Croix de Guerre.

During this exclusive, interactive conversation from his home in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, John Baxter, prize-winning author of The Most Beautiful Walk in the World, will discuss the life and influence of Josephine Baker with Samuél Lopez-Barrantes, author and literature professor at the Sorbonne. Led by two artists and long-time residents of the City of Lights, this Conversation is designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, and participants will come away with an increased understanding of Joséphine Baker's indelible influence on both French and American history.

This conversation has been designed to be enjoyed as a series, led by John Baxter and Samuél Lopez-Barrantes. For more information, click here.

Samuél is a novelist and musician who has lived in Paris since 2010. He holds an M.A. in European Society from University College London and an MFA in creative writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Samuél teaches literature and creative writing at Paris’ Sorbonne. He is also in an American folk-rock trio, Slim & The Beast, whose self-titled EP has already caught the attention of Rolling Stone France.

Not suitable for children under age 13 (sensitive content).

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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