Josephine Baker was born in New York in 1873. Tragically, her three siblings died during their childhood.
In 1898, she graduated from medical school. Determined to keep Victorian views of women from limiting her ambitions, she dressed in masculine suits.
She came to prominence with her historic breakthroughs in preventative medicine, while serving as the first director of New York City's Bureau of Child Hygiene. Her pilot programs on child hygiene, maternal education and midwife training helped drastically reduce the mortality rates of children under five.
In turn, fellow physicians petitioned the mayor, saying her work "ruined medical practice, by its results in keeping babies well." Josephine wrote she was profoundly grateful for the compliment.
She spent the rest of her life as an advocate for children, with support from her female partners and a legion of feminist friends.
This Rainbow Minute was read by Mary Gay Hutcherson.
“The Rainbow Minute” is produced by Judd Proctor and Brian Burns and can be heard every weekday at 7:59am, 12:29pm and 2:59pm on WRIR – 97.3fm in Richmond, Virginia, and webcast at wrir.org. It’s also heard internationally on over 200 stations.