Transmission of culture
Josephine was instrumental in the introduction of the Jazz Age
to Europe; she helped represent American culture at a time when
Europeans thought America had no culture.
She did frequent charity work in Paris, appearing at benefits
as well as being generally helpful. According to Phyllis Rose
in Jazz Cleopatra, Josephine "kissed
babies in foundling homes, gave dolls to the young and soup to
During World War II, Josephine worked as a Red Cross nurse and
an underground courier for the French Resistance. She also entertained
troops as a sublieutenant in the women's auxiliary of the Free
Civil rights activist
Despite her attachment to Paris, Josephine felt it was her duty
to help advance the civil rights movement in America. She wouldn't
perform in theaters that discriminated, refusing to go on stage
until blacks were allowed to sit in the same areas as whites.
Josephine also spoke at the 1963 March on Washington, telling
the crowd they looked like "Salt and pepper. Just what it should
Children of the world
Josephine didn't have children of her own, so she started an adopted
family she called her "Rainbow Tribe." She wanted to prove that
children of different colors and nationalities could live and
prosper together. In all, she adopted 12 children from all over
the world, but in the process, she lost her husband and her home.