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Josephine The Spy

Black History Quiz is a weekly celebration of the contributions and achievements of Africans and the
Black History Quiz
Josephine The Spy
By Jim Stroud • Issue #80 • View online
Black History Quiz is a weekly celebration of the contributions and achievements of Africans and the descendants of the diaspora in the United States and around the world. PLEASE SHARE this newsletter and help spread the word about a proud people and their cultures. New issues post on Sundays at 7:30 AM EST. www.blackhistoryquiz.com

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Josephine The Spy
Josephine Baker was an American-born French dancer and singer who symbolized the beauty and vitality of Black American culture, which took Paris by storm in the 1920s.
Josephine Baker’s Banana Dance (1920s)
Josephine Baker’s Banana Dance (1920s)
In 1925 she went to Paris to dance at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in La Revue Nègre and introduced her danse sauvage to France. She went on to become one of the most popular music-hall entertainers in France and achieved star billing at the Folies-Bergère, where she created a sensation by dancing seminude in a G-string ornamented with bananas. (See the video above.) She became a French citizen in 1937. She sang professionally for the first time in 1930, made her screen debut as a singer four years later, and made several more films before World War II curtailed her career.
Princess Tam-Tam (1935)
Princess Tam-Tam (1935)
According to some accounts, Baker joined the Maquis, a group of guerilla freedom fighters who reportedly trained her to shoot in the sewers under Paris. (She could snuff a candle at twenty yards, it is said.) But her primary roles were those of a seductress who enticed diplomats and generals to confide in her, and an envoy who carried concealed notes to Gen. Charles de Gaulle’s agents in Lisbon.
She’d write the information on her sheet music in invisible ink, or on pieces of paper pinned to her underwear, or along the insides of her arms, and carry it across borders under the auspices of touring—with Capt. Abtey by her side, posing as her theatrical agent.
Some who knew warned her that she risked her life with these activities, but Josephine only laughed. “Who would dare strip-search Josephine Baker?” she scoffed. She was right: the border patrols fawned over her, asking only for her autograph.
She lived in constant danger. She was nearly arrested several times, including when Nazis came to her castle for an impromptu search. She charmed them with her flirtatious chatter, making them forget all about the basement where several members of the Resistance were hiding.
Q: If Josephine Baker had been caught, the repercussions would have been imprisonment, concentration camps or worse because of a lesser-known fact about her life. Can you guess what it is?
Josephine Baker in WW II
Josephine Baker in WW II
PUZZLE TIME
Josephine Baker was featured in 9 films. Can you find them all in the word puzzle below? (Some are listed by their original French titles.)
Secret Message: On 8 April 1975, Baker starred in a retrospective revue at the Bobino in Paris, Joséphine à Bobino 1975, celebrating her 50 years in show business. The revue, financed notably by Prince Rainier, Princess Grace, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, opened to rave reviews. Demand for seating was such that fold-out chairs had to be added to accommodate spectators. The opening night audience included several celebrities including a certain Motown star. Can you find her name in the puzzle below as well?
The answer to this puzzle will be revealed in next week's newsletter.
The answer to this puzzle will be revealed in next week's newsletter.
BLACK HISTORY TODAY
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LAST WEEK'S BHQ ANSWER
For further study:
Kwanzaa - Wikipedia
Kwanzaa - HISTORY
Kwanzaa: The seven principles and what they mean - CNN
This Week's Black History Quiz Answer
Had Josephine Baker been caught, the penalty would certainly have been imprisonment in a concentration camp, or worse. But as a black woman and a Jew (she’d converted to Judaism when she married her third husband), Josephine knew she’d be in the greater danger in Paris if that part of her life was common knowledge.
For more information:
Josephine Baker | French entertainer | Britannica
Josephine Baker - World War II Spy
Jew or Not Jew: Josephine Baker
Did you enjoy this issue?
Jim Stroud

Black History Quiz is a weekly celebration of the contributions and achievements of Africans and the descendants of the diaspora in the United States and around the world. PLEASE SHARE this newsletter and help spread the word about a proud people and their cultures. New issues post on Sundays. | www.blackhistoryquiz.com

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