50 Years Later: Josephine Baker's Speech at the March on Washington Still Inspires

The World

Josephine Baker at the March on Washington on August, 28, 1963. (Photo: public domain)

Bennetta Jules-Rosette was 14-years-old when she marched on Washington with her mother and father. She remembers that it was so hot that day she could feel the heat from the pavement through the soles her shoes as she walked down Pennsylvania Avenue. Her other memory is watching the performer Josephine Baker take the stage and deliver a speech. Baker spoke about why she decided to move to France. "I took the rocky path and tried to smooth it out a little," said Baker, "I wanted to make it easier for you. I wanted you to have a chance at what I had." That speech changed the course of Jules-Rosette's young life. A year later she found herself in France. She later went on to live there for many years and even became a dual citizen. Jules-Rosette is now the director of the African & African-American Studies Research Center at the University of California–San Diego. She's also the author of the author of "Josephine Baker in Art and Life: The Icon and the Image."