[BLACK INTEREST]. BAKER, Josephine and Jo BOUILLON (authors). Piet WORM (illustrator). La Tribu Arc-En-Ciel. Amsterdam; Mulder & Zoon N.V.; Paris, Opera Mundi. 1957.
4to. Original linen textured pictorial boards illustrated to both covers, pictorial pastedowns; pp. ; joyfully illustrated throughout on every page in vibrant colours including several double-page spreads, with accompanying text in calligraphic font; a very clean and attractive copy with small splits to joints at head of spine, a couple of tiny nicks to tail, and very light wear to edges and corners; internally clean throughout with a little mild toning to stock.
First edition, extravagantly signed to front blank in blue ink by Josephine Baker: "A Mlle. [ ], Souvenir de Josephine Baker, et les petits, 1958". Written in collaboration with her fourth husband, Jo Bouillon, and featuring her "rainbow" children of all races.
Freda Josephine Macdonald (1906-1975) was born in St. Louis, Missouri, to Carrie Macdonald and, apparently, the vaudeville drummer Eddie Carson, although the identity of her father has long been in dispute. Her mother was the adopted daughter of a couple in Little Rock, Arkansas, who were former slaves of Black African and Native American descent. Josephine Baker, as she later became (taking the surname of the second of her four husbands) is internationally known as a former dancer, entertainer, human rights activist, and French resistance agent who was the first person of colour to become a world famous entertainer. Her celebrity developed in her adoptive country, France, where she famously headlined at the Folies Bergère and where her brave work for the French Resistance in World War II was acknowledged with the award of the highest French order of merit, the National Order of the Legion of Honour.
In the early 1950s, to further her belief in equality and her desire for interracial harmony, she nurtured a noble dream to create a utopian multiracial family (prefiguring the activities of Mia Farrow, Madonna, and Angelina Jolie) and to this end adopted, over a period of years, a total of 12 disadvantaged children from different countries ranging from Finland to Venezuela. She and her fourth husband, Jo Bouillon, installed their "Rainbow Tribe" in a 15th century chateau in the South of France called "Les Milandes" which the couple developed into an entertainment park, charging for public admission to hear the children sing and perform. This project, which proved to be ill-fated, forms the background for this children's book.