‘I wasn’t really naked. I simply didn’t have any clothes on.’
Her moves were unmistakable: rhythmic hands, gyrating hips and elastic legs that propelled her round the dancefloor like a flurry of hypnotic windmill sails. New York’s ‘highest-paid chorus girl in vaudeville’ would truly make her name in deco Paris at ‘La Revue Nègre’ in the mid 1920s. Ultimate womaniser, Ernest Hemingway, called her ‘the most sensational woman anyone ever saw.’ Yet, despite her popularity and fame, Rosa Parks’ fight was hers too. When she arrived back in America in the 1950s she was refused reservations at 36 hotels. She took her battle to the cabaret clubs, refusing to perform to racially-segregated audiences (despite a $10,000 offer by a Miami club). Not even threatening calls from the Klu Klux Klan scared her. In 1963, she stood beside Martin Luther King at the March on Washington. She was the only official female speaker there.
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