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Culture

Google doodle celebrates Josephine Baker

The Jazz Age icon and civil rights champion struts her stuff in an interactive doodle.

Josephine Baker takes the stage at Google.com.

Screenshot by CNET

"The most sensational woman anybody ever saw -- or ever will."

That's Google quoting Ernest Hemingway's assessment of Josephine Baker. The African-American performer and activist went from shimmying in a skirt of bananas in the Jazz Age nightclubs of Paris to delivering remarks at the 1963 March on Washington alongside the likes of Martin Luther King.

And on Saturday, Google's search page offered up a tribute with a doodle marking what would've been Baker's 111th birthday. The illustrated slideshow tracks Baker's life, from her birth in a racially segregated United States, to her breakthrough in France's capital city, to her creation of a "Rainbow Tribe" made up of children she adopted from around the world.

In addition to becoming "one of the first internationally recognized African-American entertainers" and "one of the most photographed women on the planet," Baker also found time to spy for the French Resistance during World War II and work with the NAACP during the civil rights movement, Google said in a blog post about the doodle.

The doodle follows similar celebrations of figures known for challenging racial or other barriers or devoting themselves to social justice. Among others, those honored include Bessie Coleman, the first female pilot of African-American descent and the first woman of Native American descent to earn a pilot's license; Steve Biko, the South African anti-apartheid activist who died in police custody; Gilbert Baker, creator of the LGBTQ community's rainbow flag; and Esther Afua Ocloo, the Ghanaian entrepreneur and pioneer in microlending.