Josephine Baker

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate September 2001

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Who am I? (Josephine Baker) A flamboyant, colorful dancer and entertainer. I'm erratic, domineering, and eccentric on stage as well as off. I am a singer, dancer, a French spy, and a woman who tried to create a utopian community in a world that didn't allow such ironies.

I was born in Saint Louis, Missouri on June 3, 1906. My mother, Carrie McDonald (who worked as a domestic) was married to my father Eddie Carson. My father was a loyal musician, who played the drums. After the of my brother's birth, Richard, my father abandoned us. My mother later remarried my stepfather, Arthur Martin, when I was five.

Being abandoned by my real father and living with a stepfather who was unable to provide sufficiently for the family, I gained a mistrust for men and felt that I should depend on myself. My family lived in extreme poverty, moving and struggling for survival.

I was a rebel in school. Though the law permitted a child eight years of age to be sent out for work and providing to go to school also, I was sent out to work at that age. I had come into a bad misfortune with my first employer who was abusive. I quit when she plunged my arm in a pot of boiling water. Despite that terrible account with work, I later found a second employer who treated me much better.

Before I was fourteen, I ran away form home and supported myself by finding a job waiting on tables. Then I married my first husband, Willie Wells. I later became pregnant and after I lost the child, I was down away with Willie.

I was strongly attracted by show business and thereafter, joined a street band, THE JONES FAMILY. As I worked as the Dresser...