Background Josephine Baker (1906-1975) was the first African-American woman to star in a major motion picture and to become a famous world-class entertainer. After dropping out of high school at the age of 12, Baker became a very successful street performer, and soon accepted positions in American, and later French, vaudevilles. Josephine Baker was a major figure in the American Civil Rights Movement, during which she adopted 12 multi-ethnic children and refused to perform for segregated audiences. At the March on Washington, led by many high profile civil rights activists, Baker had the honor of being asked to speak before the march began. Speech at the March on Washington
Speech by Josephine Baker
1. [Read lozenge] As you read lines 1-XX [“Friends and family…to…I never feared], begin to collect and cite text evidence. * Underline the statement that shows why Josephine Baker is qualified to give a speech. * In the margin, summarize the evidence Josephine Baker provides that shows she’s similar to other African-Americans. * Circle the difference between Josephine Baker and other African-Americans. Josephine Baker has been the victim of racism, like other African-Americans. Josephine Baker has been the victim of racism, like other African-Americans. “Friends and family . . . you know I have lived a long time and I have come a long way. And you must know now that what I did, I did originally for myself. Then later, as these things began happening to me, I wondered if they were happening to you, and then I knew they must be. And I knew that you had no way to defend yourselves, as I had. “And as I continued to do the things I did, and to say the things I said, they began to beat me. Not beat me, mind you, with a club—but you know, I have seen that done too—but they beat me with their pens, with their writings. And friends, that is much worse. “When I was a child and they burned me out of my home, I frightened and I ran away. Eventually I ran far away. It was to a place called France. Many of you have been there, and many have not. But l must tell you, ladies and gentlemen, in that country I never feared
“But I must tell you, when I was young in Paris, strange things happened to me. And these things had never happened to me before. When I left St. Louis a long time ago, the conductor directed me to the last car. And you all know what that means. In France, African-Americans are not segregated from whites. In France, African-Americans are not segregated from whites. “But when I ran away, yes, when I ran away to another country, I didn’t have to do that. I could go into any restaurant I wanted to, and I could drink water anyplace I wanted to, and I didn’t have to go to a colored toilet either, and I have to tell you it was nice, and I got used to it, and I liked it, and I wasn’t afraid anymore that someone would shout at me and say, ‘Go to the end of the line.’ “So over there, far away, I was happy, and because I was happy I had some success, and you know that too. “Then, after a long time, I came to America to be in a great show for Mr. Ziegfeld, and you know Josephine was happy. You know that. Because I wanted to tell everyone in my country about myself. I wanted to let everyone know that I made good, and you know too that that is only natural. “But on that great big beautiful ship, I had a bad experience. A very important star was to sit with me for dinner, and at the last moment I discovered she didn’t want to eat with a colored woman. I can tell you it was some blow. “And I won’t bother to mention her name, because it is not important, and anyway, now she is dead. 2. [Reread lozenge] Reread lines XX-XX. [And as I…to…I never feared] Does Baker use valid reasoning when she states that it “is much worse” to be beaten with a pen than with a club? What evidence does she provide to support this idea? Support your answer with explicit textual evidence. [WOLS]
Baker’s reasoning is valid,...