Black History at Home and Abroad: 10 Leaders Whose Impact Went Global
Arts and Culture

Black History at Home and Abroad: 13 Leaders Whose Impact Went Global


This American-born French dancer, singer, and actress has been cited as the first black woman to star in a major motion picture, Zouzou, and the first woman of color to become an international star. She began her career in the 1920s on the vaudeville circuit and would later become a citizen of France.

During World War II, she assisted the French Resistance and received the French military honor, the Croix de guerre. She was made a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur by General Charles de Gaulle, a very prestigious honor in the country.

Inducted on the St. Louis Walk of Fame, though she never found the height of success she’d found in Europe in the U.S., she supported the civil rights movement and lectured at colleges including Fisk University.