One of the valuable guests of the historic Pera Palace Hotel, which has been signing many “firsts” since its opening, was Josephine Baker, one of the prestigious figures of the twentieth century. Josephine Baker was a successful dancer, actress and activist. In addition to her successful career, she was a symbol that has become especially in the fight against racism.
Josephine Baker, real name Freda Josephine McDonald Carson Baker was born on June 3, 1906, in the state of Missouri, USA. Her parents were a couple making money by performing in small bars. That is why Josephine Baker would have had to cope with poverty and racism by childhood. The dark side of life manifested itself first when the father left them when she was a child. That’s why Josephine started working and left school. It was during this period that Josephine met racism when her mother married a jobless man. She tried to make money by babysitting the babies of wealthy families. The families often warned Josephine, “Please don’t kiss the baby”. She also witnessed a riot in 1917 when she was 11 years old, where nearly 40 African-American people died.
Josephine Baker makes her first marriage at the age of 13, and she becomes pregnant, but after her husband leaves her, she decides to have an abortion. During this time that she cannot find a job, she tries to make money by dancing on the streets. One day she is discovered by an African-American theatre group while still performing. At the age of 15, she joins them and performs in various areas of the USA. She desires to be in a choir after this job is over. However, this request is rejected on the grounds that she is “skinny and black”. The ambitious young woman does not give up her passion and eventually succeeds in making herself involved and taking part in the choir. The same period, she makes deliberate clumsiness on stage and this style is loved by the audience.
The young dancer improves her career by signing in different shows. When she was 19 years old, she went to Paris upon a proposal from a producer. Finding a more free environment here, Josephine plays a big role in introducing jazz revues to France. With her unique style and dance, her fame in Europe begins to spread. By the beginning of the 1930s, she was involved in three different films and puts her steps into the cinema industry.
Josephine Baker, now a famous artist all over the world, takes the stage in Istanbul on January 17, 1934, upon an invitation. She and her assistants stay at Pera Palace Hotel during their Istanbul visits. Fikret Adil, who knows the bohemian life of the country well, guides the artist.
In 1936, the artist returns to her native America but is again exposed to racism. She married Jean Lion in 1937 and became a French citizen. She supported the free French army in the Second World War. Entertained the troops in Africa and the Middle East with her performances, the artist also worked as an agent and gathered information from the Germans. In 1940, in response to the German occupation, she decided not to appear on the scene until there is not even one German soldier left in France.
Josephine, who was divorced from her husband in the following years, had another marriage. In the 1950s she returned to America to fight racism. She participated in demonstrations and actively resisted against racism. So much so that she met Fidel Castro, in 1963 she also participated in the march organized by NAACP and attended by Martin Luther King.
With her passion for dance, her determination and struggle with racism throughout her life, Josephine Baker, who gained the respect of the whole world, died on 12 April 1975 with bleeding. She