Northampton Museum and Art Gallery pays tribute to racism activist for Black History month

Josephine Baker
Josephine Baker

Stockings worn by a passionate activist against racism are on display at Northampton Museum and Art Gallery as part of Black History month.

Josephine Baker was born in Missouri, USA in 1906, and moved to France in the 1920s where she soon became one of Europe’s most popular performers.

The stockings at Northampton Museum and Art Gallery were made for Josephine to wear while performing at the Folies Bergere during the 1930s and are on display until the end of October.

Councillor Anna King, cabinet member for community engagement, said: “Josephine Baker is an icon, a magnetic and glamorous performer and a tireless campaigner against racism and equal rights. It’s great that we have just a little piece of her in our museum that we can display to mark this important month.”

Miss Baker’s acclaimed shows at the Folies Bergere brought her fame and she was noted for her very daring costumes where she would often dance the charleston in a skirt only made of feathers or bananas.

Coloured gilt but made of metal thread, Josephine could only wear the stockings for five minutes as they rubbed the skin from her feet as she danced.

During the Second World War, Josephine worked for the Red Cross and was involved with the French Resistance, for which she was awarded the Croix de Guerre and the Legion D’Honneur with the Rosette of Resistance, for services to France.

Returning to America during the 1950s, Josephine Baker was an active and outspoken supporter of the Civil Rights Movement, and died in 1975.

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