Google honors entertainer and activist Josephine Baker with doodle

Have you peeped Google today? It’s all about Josephine Baker, a world-famous entertainer known for her famous banana costume and activism. 

» RELATED: Google honors famous African American female sculptor with doodle

The search engine site, which sometimes uses its homepage to honor prominent figures, is highlighting the dancer on what would have been her 111th birthday. 

Born Freda Josephine McDonald in 1906, Baker grew up in poverty in St. Louis but gravitated towards the arts at a young age. As a girl, she toured with the Jones Family Band and Dixie Steppers and later joined the musical “Shuffle Along” as a teen in New York.

Her fame as a jazz musician grew after she renounced her U.S. citizenship and uprooted to Paris in the 1920s. The French vedette appeared on stages across the globe, but one of the most memorable ones featured her in a banana skirt with bedazzled jewels strewn across her neck.

Baker was an actress, too. She landed roles in French films including “Princesse Tam Tam” and “Moulin Rouge.” She was the first person of African descent to become a global artist and to star in a major motion picture.

Despite her fame, she did not have a warm homecoming when she returned to America in the 1950s. At least 36 hotels refused to serve her. She was so appalled by the treatment that she only performed for integrated audiences and began travelling the South, speaking and writing about the racism in the states.

»RELATED: Google honors Native American activist with doodle

She eventually befriended Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks and worked closely with the NAACP. When King was assassinated, his widow Coretta Scott King asked her to be the new leader of Civil Rights Movement. After some thought, she declined the offer, because she wanted to protect her children.

In 1975, she died from a cerebral hemorrhage four days after starring in a comeback show to celebrate her 50 years in the business. Since her death, she has been portrayed by several singers, such as Diana Ross and Beyonce, and inducted into Hall of Fames across the United States. Now, Google is paying tribute. 

"It's almost impossible to sum up such a multi-faceted figure, which is why today's Doodle is in a slideshow format highlighting several of Baker's most impactful accomplishments," doodle designer Lydia Nichols told Refinery29. "The bold, limited palette and simple aesthetic were influenced by poster art of the 1920s and 30s when Baker broke onto the scene."

Check out the doodle archive to see Baker’s animated doodle.

»RELATED: Who was Gilbert Baker? Google honors rainbow flag creator with doodle

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

Related Stories

X