Black ladies and men, have been at the forefront of theWeed revolution, perhaps for a very long time. Many suppose the “Queen of Sheba” was from Ethiopia and that the spices she took to “King Solomon” includedCannabis.
“The Black Pearl” (Freda Josephine McDonald) and the “The Empress of the Blues” (Elizabeth Bessie Smith) are just two of the many other black female jazz musicians of the ’20s and ’30s who embraced their sexuality. They were considered “A living symbol of personal freedom”, and throughout their career they indulged inMarijuana.
“McDonald” & “Smith” spent their times defying their rivals, and while they enjoyed their lives to the fullest every day, even in their success, they still had to fight against respectability, politics, homophobia, and anti-blackness.
She was born on “June 3, 1906, in St. Louis, Missouri”. Her mother, Carrie McDonald, was a washerwoman who had given up her dreams of becoming a music-hall dancer. Her father, Eddie Carson, was a vaudeville drummer. To help support her growing family, at age 8 Josephine cleaned houses and babysat for wealthy white families, often being poorly treated. She briefly returned to school two years later before running away from home at age 13 and finding work as a waitress at a club. While working there, she married Willie Wells, from whom she divorced only weeks later.
Capitalizing on this success, she sang professionally for the first time in 1930, and several years later landed film roles as a singer in “Zou-Zou” and “Princesse Tam-Tam”. Riding the wave of popularity in 1936, she was enjoying in France, she returned to the United States to perform in the “Ziegfield Follies”. However, she was met with a generally hostile, racist reaction and quickly returned to France, crestfallen at her mistreatment.
Upon her return, she obtained citizenship from the country that had embraced her as one of its own. When World War II erupted later that year, she worked for the “Red Cross” during the occupation of France. As a member of the Free French forces she also entertained troops in both Africa and the Middle East. For these efforts, at the war’s end, she was awarded both the “Croix de Guerre” and the Legion of Honour with the rosette of the Resistance, two of France’s highest military honors.
She adopted (12 children) more children than “Angelina Jolie” and often invited people to the estate to see these children, to demonstrate that people of different races could in fact live together harmoniously. During the 1950s, she frequently returned to the United States to lend her support to the “Civil Rights Movement”, participating in demonstrations and boycotting segregated clubs and concert venues.
In 1963, she participated, alongside Martin Luther King Jr., in the March on Washington, and was among the many notable speakers that day. In honor of her efforts, the NAACP eventually named May 20th “Josephine Baker Day”. After decades of rejection by her countrymen and a lifetime spent dealing with racism, in 1973 Baker performed at Carnegie Hall in New York and was greeted with a standing ovation. The show was a huge success and marked Baker’s comeback to the stage.
I remember once Josephine invited several of us to come to her dressing room and try some very good reefer. I went down with "Buddy Rich", and we smoked pot with Josephine Baker...but the marijuana didn't affect her performance. Never.
Baker had this gorgeous gold loving cup made for Buddy and the band, a trophy, like an Academy Award, with our names engraved on it. And it was filled with marijuana. She gave it to us after the last performance at the Strand [the New York club at which they were appearing in March 1951].
She also enjoyed theHashish with her lover “Georges Simenon”, who used to mix hashish with tobacco in his pipe. But she have first smoked marijuana, with the “Prince of Wales” in Paris, in the days when he would come to “Le Rat Mort” had to be taken out “feet first every night—dead drunk and stoned”.
On the day of her funeral, more than 20,000 people lined the streets of Paris to witness the procession, and the French government honored her with a 21-gun salute, making her the first American woman in history to be buried in France with military honors.