Josephine Baker made living landmark in Paris

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption French President Emmanuel Macron meets jazz artist Josephine Baker

Maman, or Josephine Baker, has been made a living landmark, becoming the first African-American woman to be honoured at the Pantheon in Paris.

The US-born singer and dancer was given the honour after a fellow artist created a statue which depicted her dressed in a golden gown.

Speaking after the ceremony, dancer Marie-Christine Poux-Freudigen called it a historic moment.

She said: “She is the first African-American woman and the first Black person in the Pantheon.

“Now Madame Baker will live with Madame Degas, and I think it’s the most beautiful thing in the world.”

Josephine Baker was the only native of Paris to spend more than six months in the French capital

Present at the ceremony were members of her family, including her 80-year-old son Marc Berger, who gave an impassioned speech

He had launched a petition demanding that the Pantheon recognise her during her lifetime.

“At all times during my entire life I was insulted, bullied, belittled, made to feel lesser than any other form of humanity,” he said.

He added: “My mother was so beautiful; she was so influential.”

Josephine Baker was born in the New Orleans slums in 1891. She lived there for nearly 20 years before eventually finding fame in New York and Paris in the 20th century.

Ms Baker is remembered for her role in “the court of showbusiness” in the famous jazz clubs of the US

It is a cause that touched the hearts of the French president, Emmanuel Macron, who promised to do all in his power to create more opportunities for France’s Roma.

“This next generation will bring a lot of change,” Mr Macron said.

“France must continue to be the land of the free, but also of the ambitious and innovative.”

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