Yesterday Herbert Backhaus, his brother Raymond and his niece Anna and I traveled to Lascaux, France to visit the most celebrated cave in the world. To have left without seeing this amazing display of 30,000 year old artistic accomplishment would be like going to Rome and not visiting the Sistine Chapel. One is left breathless, I have no words to describe the display. On the way home Herbert took us also to see the Prezwalski horses near by at a park that features the ancient breeds drawn on the caves. LOOK at my girls Essie Pearl and Spirit they are the closest living breed to the Prezwalski horse. I AM TIME TRAVELING.
Photos, 1 and 2 …paintings from the caves, #3 The Preswalski horse, #4 my girls and #5 is the horse we saw yesterday.
Lynx and I rode past Josephine Baker’s Chateau.
I have known about this woman for years, having studied about her in dance history. But to have come across this, I could hardly believe my eyes.
Who Was Josephine Baker?
Josephine Baker was a dancer and singer who became wildly popular in France during the 1920s. She also devoted much of her life to fighting racism.
Born Freda Josephine McDonald on June 3, 1906, in St. Louis, Missouri, Josephine Baker spent her youth in poverty before learning to dance and finding success on Broadway. In the 1920s she moved to France and soon became one of Europe’s most popular and highest-paid performers. She worked for the French Resistance during World War II, and during the 1950s and ’60s devoted herself to fighting segregation and racism in the United States.
Josephine Baker did more than just shake a tail feather, she also fought for racial equality by demanding that her contract contain a nondiscrimination clause and that her audiences become integrated.
In 1925 at the peak of France’s obsession with American jazz and all things exotic, Baker traveled to Paris to perform in La Revue Nègre at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées. She made an immediate impression on French audiences when, with dance partner Joe Alex, she performed the Danse Sauvage, in which she wore only a feather skirt.
The money she earned from her performances soon allowed her to purchase an estate in Castellated-Fayrac, in the southwest of France. She named the estate Les Milandes, and soon paid to move her family there from St. Louis.
During World War II Baker worked for the Red Cross during the occupation of France. As a member of the Free French forces she also entertained troops in both Africa and the Middle East. Perhaps most importantly, however, Baker did work for the French Resistance, at times smuggling messages hidden in her sheet music and even in her underwear. For these efforts, at the war’s end, Baker was awarded both the Croix de Guerre and the Legion of Honour with the rosette of the Resistance, two of France’s highest military honors.
Josephine Baker’s Children
Following the war, Baker spent most of her time at Les Milandes with her family. In 1947, she married French orchestra leader Jo Bouillon, and beginning in 1950 began to adopt babies from around the world. She adopted 12 children in all, creating what she referred to as her “rainbow tribe” and her “experiment in brotherhood.” She often invited people to the estate to see these children, to demonstrate that people of different races could in fact live together harmoniously.
Return to the U.S., Civil Rights Advocate
During the 1950s, Baker frequently returned to the United States to lend her support to the Civil Rights Movement, participating in demonstrations and boycotting segregated clubs and concert venues. In 1963, Baker participated, alongside Martin Luther King Jr., in the March on Washington, and was among the many notable speakers that day. In honor of her efforts, the NAACP eventually named May 20th “Josephine Baker Day.”
After decades of rejection by her countrymen and a lifetime spent dealing with racism, in 1973 Baker performed at Carnegie Hall in New York and was greeted with a standing ovation. She was so moved by her reception that she wept openly before her audience. The show was a huge success and marked Baker’s comeback to the stage..
In April 1975, Josephine Baker performed at the Bobino Theater in Paris, in the first of a series of performances celebrating the 50th anniversary of her Paris debut. Numerous celebrities were in attendance, including Sophia Loren and Princess Grace of Monaco, who had been a dear friend to Baker for years. Just days later, on April 12, 1975, Baker died in her sleep of a cerebral hemorrhage. She was 68.
On the day of her funeral, more than 20,000 people lined the streets of Paris to witness the procession, and the French government honored her with a 21-gun salute, making Baker the first American woman in history to be buried in France with military honors.