How Josephine Baker Upended Sexual Stereotypes While Advocating For Civil Rights

In the first half of the 20th century, dancer and singer Josephine Baker left the segregated United States for Paris, where she became one of the world’s biggest stars. Baker went on to aid her adopted country of France during World War II by spying on Nazis. Yet, she didn’t forget about the country of her birth.

Baker fought for equality in the United States, first by refusing to perform in segregated theaters and later by speaking at the 1963 March on Washington. She accomplished all of this and more while also staying true to herself. Being open about her sexuality was a risk at the time, but she didn’t hold back from forming relationships with men and women—some famous—during the 1920s and beyond. 

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