Josephine Baker stockings in Black History Month display

Published: Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Stockings worn by the iconic Josephine Baker are on display at Northampton Museum and Art Gallery during October as part of Black History Month.

Josephine Baker was an iconic dancer, actress and singer and also a passionate fighter against racism.

Born in Missouri, USA in 1906, Josephine Baker moved to France in the 1920s and soon became one of Europe’s most popular performers. Her acclaimed shows at the Folies Bergere brought her fame and she was noted for her very daring costumes, often dancing only in a skirt made of feathers – or bananas.

The stockings at Northampton Museum and Art Gallery were made for Josephine to wear while performing at the Folies Bergere during the 1930s. Coloured gilt but made of metal thread, Josephine could only wear the stockings for five minutes as they rubbed the skin from her feet as she danced.

During the second World War, Josephine worked for the Red Cross and was involved with the French Resistance, for which she was awarded the Croix de Guerre and the Legion D’Honneur with the Rosette of Resistance, for services to France.

Returning to America during the 1950s, Josephine Baker was an active and outspoken supporter of the Civil Rights Movement. She died in 1975.

Cllr Anna King, Cabinet Member for Community Engagement, said: “Josephine Baker is an icon, a magnetic and glamorous performer and a tireless campaigner against racism and equal rights. It’s great that we have just a little piece of her in our museum that we can display to mark this important month.”