Josephine Baker “House”


Chateau Milandes - Josephine Baker's "House"

Chateau Milandes – Josephine Baker’s “house”


Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Beauford Delaney and Chester Himes were among the many black American artists who traded the racist and segregated United States for a less oppressive life in France. But none became as entrenched in French society and legend as Josephine Baker. Unlike Baldwin, Wright and the others, she did not expressly self-exile because of the racism she endured at home. Instead, when offered a contract to entertain in Paris, she accepted without hesitation. In 1925, Baker arrived in Paris and twelve years later traded her American citizenship for French.

Chateau Milandes was home to Josephine Baker and her “Rainbow Tribe” of adopted children. She first inhabited the chateau in 1939, escaping Paris at the outbreak of WWII. Throughout the war she ran spy missions for France, her willingness motivated by her having a Jewish husband. She used her status as an entertainer to access parties and state affairs, where she collected information she had overheard. Later she completed missions in North Africa. France recognized Baker’s allegiance with three of the country’s highest honors: La Croix de Guerre, La Médaille de la Résistance and La Légion d’Honneur, which Charles de Gaulle presented himself.

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