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The Josephine Baker Story Essay

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Josephine Baker was born Freda Josephine Carson in St. Louis, Missouri, on June
3, 1906 to washerwoman, Carrie McDonald, and vaudeville drummer, Eddie Carson.
Josephine's father abandoned them shortly after her birth and her mother married a kind but perpetually unemployed man named Arthur Martin. Their family came to include a son and two more daughters. Josephine grew up cleaning houses and babysitting for wealthy white families until she got a job waitressing at The Old Chauffeur's Club when she was 13-years-old. While working there she met a man named Willie Wells whom she had a short marriage with. Josephine never depended on a man for financial support and she never hesitated to leave when a relationship hit its breaking point.
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Josephine battled two other women for the title of the most photographed woman in the world, and by 1927 she earned more than any entertainer in Europe. She starred in two movies in the early 1930s and moved her family from St. Louis to Les Milandes, her estate in Castelnaud-Fayrac, France. A 1936 return to the United States to star in the Ziegfield Follies proved disastrous, despite the fact that she was a major celebrity in Europe. American audiences rejected the idea of a black woman with so much sophistication and power. Newspaper reviews were equally cruel (The New York Times called her a "Negro wench"), and Josephine returned to Europe heartbroken. She served France during World War II in many ways. She performed for the troops, and was an honorable correspondent for the French Resistance (undercover work included smuggling secret messages written on her music sheetsin invisible ink) and a sub-lieutenant in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force. She was awarded the Medal of the Resistance and awarded into the Legion of Honor by the French government for hard work and dedication. Josephine visited the United States again during the 50s and 60s with renewed vigor to fight racism. When New York's popular Stork Club refused her service she engaged a head-on media battle with pro-segregation columnist Walter Winchell. The NAACP named May 20 Josephine Baker Day in honor of her efforts. During this time she began adopting children, forming a
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