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Joséphine Baker will be the first black woman to be honored by the French government with a place in the Pantheon.
President Emmanuel Macron has decided that she will be buried in the Parisian building, a monument to France’s national heroes and where some of its most revered historical figures are buried, in response to a significant demand.
Josephine Baker: Dancer, WWII spy and civil rights activist honoured at France’s Pantheon
But a coffin carrying land from the United States, France and Monaco – places where Baker made his mark – will be laid inside the Pantheon monument on Tuesday.
In addition to honoring an exceptional figure in French history, this decision aims to send a message against racism and to celebrate American-French ties.
But critics in France say that by focusing on a figure born in the United States, France is continuing a long tradition of speaking out against racism abroad without facing it at home.
Laurent Kupferman, the author of the petition said: “Above all, she embodies the freedom of women.”