Josephine Baker
Josephine Baker (1906-1975)

Inducted - Wednesday, March 29, 1995
Sculptor: William J. Williams

Where is Josephine Baker in the Hall of Famous Missourians?

Josephine Baker was an international star and human rights activist known for her sultry vocals and distinct improvisational dance style. She discovered her ticket out of a life of poverty through song and dance. Because of her strong views against racial discrimination, Baker left this country for France to launch an entertainment career, which spanned five decades.

Deeply involved in the civil rights movement, she was instrumental in prompting nightclubs and theaters to integrate their audiences by her refusal to perform unless nondiscriminatory seating practices were followed. One of the highlights of Baker’s life was taking part in the 1963 Freedom March in Washington, D.C., and delivering a speech beside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Lincoln Memorial. Four days before her death, Baker opened a new revue in Paris and after a 15-minute ovation stated, "Now I can die."