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37 Quotes by Josephine Baker on Life, Entertaining, and Racism

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Wikipedia Summary for Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker (born Freda Josephine McDonald, naturalised French Joséphine Baker; 3 June 1906 – 12 April 1975) was an American-born French entertainer, French Resistance agent and civil rights activist. Her career was centered primarily in Europe, mostly in her adopted France. She was the first black woman to star in a major motion picture, the 1927 silent film Siren of the Tropics, directed by Mario Nalpas and Henri Étiévant.

During her early career, Baker was among the most celebrated performers to headline the revues of the Folies Bergère in Paris. Her performance in the revue Un vent de folie in 1927 caused a sensation in the city. Her costume, consisting of only a short skirt of artificial bananas and a beaded necklace, became an iconic image and a symbol both of the Jazz Age and the Roaring Twenties.

Baker was celebrated by artists and intellectuals of the era, who variously dubbed her the "Black Venus", the "Black Pearl", the "Bronze Venus", and the "Creole Goddess". Born in St. Louis, Missouri, she renounced her U.S. citizenship and became a French national after her marriage to French industrialist Jean Lion in 1937. She raised her children in France.

She aided the French Resistance during World War II. After the war, she was awarded the Resistance Medal by the French Committee of National Liberation, the Croix de guerre by the French military, and was named a Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur by General Charles de Gaulle. Baker sang: "I have two loves, my country and Paris."Baker refused to perform for segregated audiences in the United States and is noted for her contributions to the civil rights movement.

In 1968, she was offered unofficial leadership in the movement in the United States by Coretta Scott King, following Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination. After thinking it over, Baker declined the offer out of concern for the welfare of her children. On 23 August 2021, it was announced that in November 2021 she will be interred in the Panthéon in Paris, the first black woman to receive one of the highest honors in France.

Quote: God dislikes evil, and no happiness can be built on hate. Love one another as brothers. by author Josephine Baker overlaid on photo of close-up photography of heart shaped fairy lite on brown sand
Photo Credit: Fadi Xd

God dislikes evil, and no happiness can be built on hate. Love one another as brothers.


Quote: He was my cream, and I was his coffee -- and when you poured us together, it was something. by author Josephine Baker overlaid on photo of photo of author Josephine Baker with quote

He was my cream, and I was his coffee -- and when you poured us together, it was something.


Quote: Is that what they call a vocation, what you do with joy as if you had fire in your heart, the devil in your body? by author Josephine Baker overlaid on photo of photo of author Josephine Baker with quote

Is that what they call a vocation, what you do with joy as if you had fire in your heart, the devil in your body?


Quote: I shall dance all my life... I would like to die, breathless, spent, at the end of a dance. by author Josephine Baker overlaid on photo of photo of author Josephine Baker with quote

I shall dance all my life... I would like to die, breathless, spent, at the end of a dance.


Quote: I have never really been a great artist. I have been a human being that has loved art, which is not the same thing. But I have loved and believed in art and the idea of universal brotherhood so much, that I have put everything I have into them, and I have been blessed. by author Josephine Baker overlaid on photo of Josephine Baker quote; white text on black background

I have never really been a great artist. I have been a human being that has loved art, which is not the same thing. But I have loved and believed in art and the idea of universal brotherhood so much, that I have put everything I have into them, and I have been blessed.


Quote: Oh, you young people act like old men. You have no fun. by author Josephine Baker overlaid on photo of photo of author Josephine Baker with quote

Oh, you young people act like old men. You have no fun.


Quote: The secret to the fountain of youth is to think youthful thoughts. by author Josephine Baker overlaid on photo of photo of author Josephine Baker with quote

The secret to the fountain of youth is to think youthful thoughts.


Quote: I have two loves: my country and Paris. by author Josephine Baker overlaid on photo of photo of author Josephine Baker with quote

I have two loves: my country and Paris.


Quote: We've got to show that blacks and whites are treated equally in the army. Otherwise, what's the point of waging war on Hitler? by author Josephine Baker overlaid on photo of photo of author Josephine Baker with quote

We've got to show that blacks and whites are treated equally in the army. Otherwise, what's the point of waging war on Hitler?


Quote: I think they must mix blood, otherwise the human race is bound to degenerate. Mixing blood is marvelous. It makes strong and intelligent men. It takes away tired spirits. by author Josephine Baker overlaid on photo of photo of author Josephine Baker with quote

I think they must mix blood, otherwise the human race is bound to degenerate. Mixing blood is marvelous. It makes strong and intelligent men. It takes away tired spirits.


Quote: I was learning the importance of names -- having them, making them -- but at the same time I sensed the dangers. Recognition was followed by oblivion, a yawning maw whose victims disappeared without a trace. by author Josephine Baker overlaid on photo of photo of author Josephine Baker with quote

I was learning the importance of names -- having them, making them -- but at the same time I sensed the dangers. Recognition was followed by oblivion, a yawning maw whose victims disappeared without a trace.




Quote: A violinist had a violin, a painter his palette. All I had was myself. I was the instrument that I must care for. by author Josephine Baker overlaid on photo of photo of author Josephine Baker with quote

A violinist had a violin, a painter his palette. All I had was myself. I was the instrument that I must care for.


Quote: I'm not intimidated by anyone. Everyone is made with two arms, two legs, a stomach and a head. Just think about that. by author Josephine Baker overlaid on photo of photo of author Josephine Baker with quote

I'm not intimidated by anyone. Everyone is made with two arms, two legs, a stomach and a head. Just think about that.


Quote: We must change the system of education and instruction. Unfortunately, history has shown us that brotherhood must be learned, when it should be natural. by author Josephine Baker overlaid on photo of photo of author Josephine Baker with quote

We must change the system of education and instruction. Unfortunately, history has shown us that brotherhood must be learned, when it should be natural.


Quote: You are on the eve of a complete victory. You can't go wrong. The world is behind you. by author Josephine Baker overlaid on photo of photo of author Josephine Baker with quote

You are on the eve of a complete victory. You can't go wrong. The world is behind you.


Quote: All men can live together, if they wish to. by author Josephine Baker overlaid on photo of photo of author Josephine Baker with quote

All men can live together, if they wish to.


Quote: I have walked into the palaces of kings and queens and into the houses of presidents. And much more. by author Josephine Baker overlaid on photo of photo of author Josephine Baker with quote

I have walked into the palaces of kings and queens and into the houses of presidents. And much more.

Longer Version/[Notes]:

I have walked into the palaces of kings and queens and into the houses of presidents. And much more. But I could not walk into a hotel in America and get a cup of coffee, and that made me mad.


Quote: Friends, to me for years St. Louis represented a city of fear... humiliation... misery and terror... A city where in the eyes of the white man a Negro should know his place and had better stay in it. by author Josephine Baker overlaid on photo of photo of author Josephine Baker with quote

Friends, to me for years St. Louis represented a city of fear... humiliation... misery and terror... A city where in the eyes of the white man a Negro should know his place and had better stay in it.


Quote: I remember when Lindbergh arrived in Paris, I was one of the first persons to know about his landing, because as the French people know that I was born in St. Louis, thinking I would be very proud to announce it to the public, they gave me the news first. I was then starring in the 'Folies Bergere.' by author Josephine Baker overlaid on photo of Josephine Baker quote: I remember when Lindbergh arrived in Paris, I was one of the first persons to know about his landing, because as the French people know that I was born in St. Louis, thinking I would be very proud to announce it to the public, they gave me the news first. I was then starring in the 'Folies Bergere.'- black text on quotes background

I remember when Lindbergh arrived in Paris, I was one of the first persons to know about his landing, because as the French people know that I was born in St. Louis, thinking I would be very proud to announce it to the public, they gave me the news first. I was then starring in the 'Folies Bergere.'


Quote: The hate directed against the colored people here in St. Louis has always given me a sad feeling... How can you expect the world to believe in you and respect your preaching of democracy when you yourself treat your colored brothers as you do? by author Josephine Baker overlaid on photo of photo of author Josephine Baker with quote

The hate directed against the colored people here in St. Louis has always given me a sad feeling... How can you expect the world to believe in you and respect your preaching of democracy when you yourself treat your colored brothers as you do?


Quote: I was a devil in other countries, and I was a little devil in America, too. by author Josephine Baker overlaid on photo of photo of author Josephine Baker with quote

I was a devil in other countries, and I was a little devil in America, too.


Quote: I ran away from St. Louis, and then I ran away from the United States, because of that terror of discrimination. by author Josephine Baker overlaid on photo of photo of author Josephine Baker with quote

I ran away from St. Louis, and then I ran away from the United States, because of that terror of discrimination.

Longer Version/[Notes]:

I ran away from home. I ran away from St. Louis, and then I ran away from the United States of America, because of that terror of discrimination, that horrible beast which paralyzes one's very soul and body.


Quote: I believe in prayer. It's the best way we have to draw strength from heaven. by author Josephine Baker overlaid on photo of photo of author Josephine Baker with quote

I believe in prayer. It's the best way we have to draw strength from heaven.


Quote: Surely the day will come when color means nothing more than the skin tone, when religion is seen uniquely as a way to speak one's soul, when birth places have the weight of a throw of the dice and all men are born free, when understanding breeds love and brotherhood. by author Josephine Baker overlaid on photo of Josephine Baker quote; white text on black background

Surely the day will come when color means nothing more than the skin tone, when religion is seen uniquely as a way to speak one's soul, when birth places have the weight of a throw of the dice and all men are born free, when understanding breeds love and brotherhood.


Quote: Let us stop saying 'white Americans' and 'colored Americans,' let us try once and for all saying... Americans. Let human beings be equal on Earth as in Heaven. by author Josephine Baker overlaid on photo of photo of author Josephine Baker with quote

Let us stop saying 'white Americans' and 'colored Americans,' let us try once and for all saying... Americans. Let human beings be equal on Earth as in Heaven.


Quote: I like Frenchmen very much, because even when they insult you they do it so nicely. by author Josephine Baker overlaid on photo of photo of author Josephine Baker with quote

I like Frenchmen very much, because even when they insult you they do it so nicely.


Quote: Americans, the eyes of the world are upon you. How can you expect the world to believe in you and respect your preaching of democracy when you yourself treat your colored brothers as you do? by author Josephine Baker overlaid on photo of photo of author Josephine Baker with quote

Americans, the eyes of the world are upon you. How can you expect the world to believe in you and respect your preaching of democracy when you yourself treat your colored brothers as you do?


Quote: When I was a child and they burned me out of my home, I was frightened and I ran away. Eventually I ran far away. It was to a place called France. Many of you have been there, and many have not. But I must tell you, ladies and gentlemen, in that country I never feared. It was like a fairyland place. by author Josephine Baker overlaid on photo of Josephine Baker quote: When I was a child and they burned me out of my home, I was frightened and I ran away. Eventually I ran far away. It was to a place called France. Many of you have been there, and many have not. But I must tell you, ladies and gentlemen, in that country I never feared. It was like a fairyland place.- black text on quotes background

When I was a child and they burned me out of my home, I was frightened and I ran away. Eventually I ran far away. It was to a place called France. Many of you have been there, and many have not. But I must tell you, ladies and gentlemen, in that country I never feared. It was like a fairyland place.


Quote: The things we truly love stay with us always, locked in our hearts as long as life remains. by author Josephine Baker overlaid on photo of photo of author Josephine Baker with quote

The things we truly love stay with us always, locked in our hearts as long as life remains.


Quote: All my life, I have maintained that the people of the world can learn to live together in peace if they are not brought up in prejudice. by author Josephine Baker overlaid on photo of photo of author Josephine Baker with quote

All my life, I have maintained that the people of the world can learn to live together in peace if they are not brought up in prejudice.


Quote: I wasn't really naked. I simply didn't have any clothes on. by author Josephine Baker overlaid on photo of photo of author Josephine Baker with quote

I wasn't really naked. I simply didn't have any clothes on.


Quote: I believe if the white and colored people could get together and be let alone, they would understand each other and consequently love each other. by author Josephine Baker overlaid on photo of photo of author Josephine Baker with quote

I believe if the white and colored people could get together and be let alone, they would understand each other and consequently love each other.


Quote: I wanted to get far away from those who believed in cruelty, so then I went to France, a land of true freedom, democracy, equality and fraternity. by author Josephine Baker overlaid on photo of photo of author Josephine Baker with quote

I wanted to get far away from those who believed in cruelty, so then I went to France, a land of true freedom, democracy, equality and fraternity.


Quote: Beautiful? It's all a question of luck. I was born with good legs. As for the rest... beautiful, no. Amusing, yes. by author Josephine Baker overlaid on photo of photo of author Josephine Baker with quote

Beautiful? It's all a question of luck. I was born with good legs. As for the rest... beautiful, no. Amusing, yes.




Quote: You must get an education. You must go to school, and you must learn to protect yourself. And you must learn to protect yourself with the pen, and not the gun. by author Josephine Baker overlaid on photo of photo of author Josephine Baker with quote

You must get an education. You must go to school, and you must learn to protect yourself. And you must learn to protect yourself with the pen, and not the gun.


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