Josephine Baker statue unveiled in Paris

Image copyright AP Image caption Despite being African-American and Jewish, Josephine Baker had no European links

The first Black woman to be honoured by the French Pantheon has been celebrated in Paris, with a 10m (33ft) bronze statue.

The statue in the city’s 14th district depicts Josephine Baker, who was born in New Orleans and became famous for her international dancing career.

Ms Baker became the first Black woman at Paris’s famed Opera Garnier.

She was a singer, dancer, opera singer, designer and humanitarian, who died in 1998 at the age of 84.

On Saturday, one of her close friends, Mary Widdecombe, danced with France’s French Army at the unveiling ceremony.

“Here is a symbol of a freedom Josephine embraced,” Ms Widdecombe told AFP news agency.

“Josephine’s presence was recognised in the day and she was an inspiration.”

Image copyright AFP Image caption Robert Mapplethorpe and Josephine Baker used to pose with each other for photographs

Ms Baker’s other close friend, Natalie Cole, was also at the statue unveiling.

In the 1950s, Ms Baker was a muse for photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, who famously posed the two of them in the nude.

Ms Baker was also a singer who travelled across Europe in the 1930s, performing for royalty and dignitaries.

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