1970-1980: The nationalization of Black Consciousness Day in Brazil

Our Histories - National Black Consciousness Day

By Geledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne

Our Histories: the lives, struggles and knowledges of black people

Jaques Felix Trindade. “Capa”. Jornegro, São Paulo, n. 5, 1978. (1978) by Jaques Felix TrindadeGeledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne

Marcha Zumbi está Vivo, Rio de Janeiro, 18 de novembro de 1983 (1983-11-18) by Acervo do fotógrafo Januário GarciaGeledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne

November 20th - Consciousness Day for a Black Nation

In the 1970s and 1980s, the proposal of November 20 as Black Consciouness Day, driven by the Palmares Group in Porto Alegre, found acceptance in hearts and minds across Brazil. Memories claimed or preserved over generations have taken on an increasingly defined outline of a struggle agenda of national reach. Through a multitude of actions in the capitals and in the countryside, Zumbi was assumed as a great expression of the human capacity of Black people to confront slavery and racism. The rewriting of the history of Quilombo dos Palmares paved the way for other narratives in which Africans and their descendants were recognized as protagonists of individual and collective trajectories of freedom.

Solano Trindade by Fotografia: Autoria Não Identificada (Unknown). Acervo da Família de Solano Trindade.Geledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne

"Canto dos Palmares" by Solano Trindade performed by Leonardo Ângelo da Silva.
00:00

"REDEMPTION FOR ZUMBI..."

Undoubtedly, the distances imposed by a continental country like Brazil were not enough to isolate the black poet from Rio Grande do Sul Oliveira Silveira (1941-2009) in his efforts to promote an encounter with the "palmarina" struggles at the turn of the 1960s to the 1970s. Defying mere coincidences, his poetics of freedom would find resonance in the verses of a good number of bards, such as Solano Trindade (1908-1974), a poet representing the black diaspora of Pernambuco in the Southeast of Brazil. In “Canto dos Palmares” [Songs of Palmares], seeing himself as part of the "quilombola" epic, he propels new generations to fight for justice today.

Cartaz Zumbi (1978) by Cartaz de Autoria Não Identificada. Tição, Porto Alegre, n. 2, ano II, ago. 1979.Geledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne

BLACK CONSCIOUSNESS AGAINST THE DICTATORSHIP

Poster produced for the first activity of the then Unified Black Movement Against Racial Discrimination (MNUCDR) on November 20, 1978. The material was approved at the organization's III National Assembly, held on November 3 and 4, at Instituto Cultural Brazil -Germany (ICBA), in Salvador, Bahia. Agents of the National Intelligence Service (SNI) tried to prevent the activity from being carried out, using the argument that the kind mobilization violated the Afonso Arinos Law of 1951, which precisely prohibited racial discrimination in Brazil. Ana Célia da Silva, retired professor at the State University of Bahia (Uneb), remembers the presence of the philosopher Lélia Gonzalez and her decisive performance in a time of conflict:

Lelia Gonzalez, Acervo do fotógrafo Januário Garcia, From the collection of: Geledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne
Show lessRead more

Ana Célia da Silva by Acervo pessoal de Ana Célia da Silva. Fotografia de Alberto Lima.Geledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne

Dra. Ana Célia Silva
00:00

In its first letter of principles, the MNU recognized as “black everyone who brings the characteristic signs of that race in their skin color, face or hair” and placed itself in the “defense of the Black people in all political, economic, social aspects and cultural ”.

I FECONEZU (1978) by Cartaz de Autoria Não Identificada. Revista do Movimento Negro Unificado, São Paulo, nov. 1981.Geledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne

COMMUNITY FESTIVAL "NEGRO ZUMBI"

Contrary to what many people think, the founding of MNUCDR in 1978 did not mark the resurgence of the Black Movement in response to the military dictatorship. Instead, it came from the proposal to articulate different and existing organizations. In São Paulo, the Federation of Afro-Brazilian Entities (FEABESP) had been created in 1976, starting the publication of the newspaper Jornegro two years later. Other associations also existed in the interior of the state, such as black social clubs and initiatives such as Grupo de Teatro Evolução, from Campinas.

It was in this scenario of promoting connections between similar experiences and the affirmation of November 20 as the National Day of Black Consciousness that the Black Zumbi Community Festival (Feconezu) began. The first edition took place in the city of Araraquara in 1978, bringing together about a thousand people. On the occasion, the first issue of "Cadernos Negros" was released, in which poems by Henrique Cunha Jr., Angela Lopes Galvão, Eduardo de Oliveira, Hugo Ferreira da Silva, Celinha (Célia Aparecida Pereira), Jamu Minka, Oswaldo de Camargo and Luiz Silva Cuti were published. Like MNU and Cadernos Negros, Feconezu continues to operate, specifically in the interior of São Paulo.

Jaques Felix Trindade. “Zumbi”. Jornegro, São Paulo, n. 2, mai. 1978, Jornegro, 1978-05, From the collection of: Geledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne
Show lessRead more

ZUMBI AT SCHOOLS

In 2003, the 20th of November was included in the school calendar as "National Day of Black Consciousness", pursuant to article 79-B of the Law of Guidelines and Bases of National Education (LDB). This is one of the novelties brought by Law no. 10.,639, which made the teaching of African and Afro-Brazilian history and culture compulsory throughout the country's basic education network. For decades, Black Movement activists have dedicated themselves to highlighting the importance of anti-racist education in overcoming profound social inequalities. Multiple strategies have been adopted for this. Creative approaches, such as comic books published in black press newspapers, allowed not only to draw attention to the problem, but also to provide information missing from textbooks.

Jaques Felix Trindade. “Zumbi”. Jornegro, São Paulo, n. 3, jul. 1978, Jornegro, 1978-07, From the collection of: Geledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne
Show lessRead more
Jaques Felix Trindade. “Zumbi”. Jornegro, São Paulo, n. 4, set. 1978, Jornegro, 1978-09, From the collection of: Geledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne
Show lessRead more
Jaques Felix Trindade. “Zumbi”, Jornegro, São Paulo, n. 5, nov. 1978., Jornegro, 1978-11, From the collection of: Geledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne
Show lessRead more

Jornegro, n. 7, 1979, p. 16. (1979) by JornegroGeledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne

Reunião com representantes do Conselho Geral do Memorial Zumbi em Brasília (1980) by Acervo Particular de Lydia GarciaGeledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne

National History Park - Zumbi Memorial

The first public debates in defense of the creation of the “Parque Histórico Nacional - Memorial Zumbi” [National Historical Park – Zumbi Memorial] took place in Maceió, Alagoas, in 1980. In the initial proposal, the monument should be erected in the historic site of Serra Barriga, in the municipality of União dos Palmares. Intellectual activists linked to the Black Movement, from different parts of the country, mobilized to make this dream come true. Public institutions were also involved, such as the Federal University of Alagoas (UFAL), Pro-Memory Foundation, Secretariat of National Historical and Artistic Heritage (SPHAN) and the Government of the State of Alagoas. In this picture are , Carlos Moura, Dulce Pereira, Lydia Garcia, Mariza Ricupero, Olímpio Serra, Zezito Araújo, Willy Mello, and others.

Abdias do Nascimento beija o chão de Palmares (1981), Acervo do fotógrafo Januário Garcia, 1985, From the collection of: Geledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne
Show lessRead more

THE COLLECTIVE HIKE TO SERRA DA BARRIGA IN 1981

In November 1981, about a thousand militants promoted a collective hike to the top of Serra da Barriga. Photographer Januário Garcia tells this history through his lenses. It was he who recorded the moment when Abdias do Nascimento kissed the floor of Palmares as a sign of respect, in the presence of companions and comrades in the fight, such as Lélia Gonzalez and Helena Theodoro. Other collective climbs would be carried out until the project was completed.

Força Negra, Belo Horizonte, n. 1, set. 1980, p. 5, Janurário Garcia, 1981, From the collection of: Geledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne
Show lessRead more

Negritude, ano II, n. 4, nov.-dez 1987. (1987) by NegritudeGeledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne

"Palmares" Inaldete Pinheiro de Andrade
00:00

FRUITS OF UTOPIA - QUILOMBO DOS PALMARES MEMORIAL PARK

The implementation of the Quilombo dos Palmares Memorial Park took place only in 2007. Despite these almost three decades of struggles, Inadelte Pinheiro de Andrade, recognized as one of the main leaders for the rearticulation of the Black Movement in Pernambuco and who was also in Serra da Barriga in 1981, had the joy of witnessing this achievement. Inaldete was born in the city of Parnamirim, Rio Grande do Norte, in 1946, but made Recife her home for living, in affections and struggles. Nurse and master in Social Work from the Federal University of Pernambuco (UFPE), she has dedicated special attention to the writing of black literature for children and young people and to reflections on black literature in Brazil. Listen to the poem “Palmares”, written by her, published in the newspaper Negritude, in 1987.

Marcha Zumbi está Vivo, Rio de Janeiro, 18 de novembro de 1983. (1983-11-18) by Acervo do fotógrafo Januário GarciaGeledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne

"Zumbi is alive" march - Rio de Janeiro, November 1983

Throughout the 1980s, in addition to internal actions, activists from different entities of the Black Movement invested in street demonstrations. The occupation of public spaces in the final years of the military dictatorship was an important proof of the confidence that Black individuals and groups had to assert themselves as political and historical subjects. Even without having a national dimension, the Zumbi is Alive March, held in Rio de Janeiro on November 18, 1983, was fundamental for the process of incorporating Black Awareness Day in the calendar of civic dates exalted in the period of redemocratization.

CULTNE DOC - Movimento Negro 1983 - Marcha e Ato - 20 NovGeledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne

Akomabu, São Luís, ano 1, n. 5, 1986. (1986) by AkomabuGeledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne

CENTER OF BLACK CULTURE: A "PALMARINA" VOICE IN THE STATE OF MARANHÃO

Founded on September 19, 1979 in São Luís, the Center for Black Culture of Maranhão (CCN / MA) also stood out in the process of nationalization of Black Consciousness Day. At a time when many activists were acting according to the false dichotomy between culture and politics, the CCN demonstrated the potential for the confluence between the two fields. Thanks to the Block of Afro-Music Akomabu and other actions of a political, social, cultural, religious and educational nature, CCN reduced distances and strengthened the dialogue with the population of Maranhão. In addition, it is a pioneer organization in the recognition and defense of quilombos as rural black communities or lands of blacks in the state and in Brazil.

Filhos de Zumbi Grupo de Dança Africana by Acervo Particular de Lydia GarciaGeledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne

PALMARES LEGACY IN THE NEW CAPITAL

It did not take long for the first expressions of the black protest to be noticed in Brasilia, the new federal capital, inaugurated in 1960. The urban organization of the Federal District itself maintained the tendency to naturalize inequalities and reproduce daily practices of racial discrimination. The first black organizations formally established, still in the 1970s, were the Center for Afro-Brazilian Studies (Ceab) and the Unified Black Movement (MNU). In addition to these, experiences such as the African Dance Group Filhos de Zumbi and the National Afro-Brazilian Institute (Inabra) also deserve to be remembered here for their contribution to the appreciation of the history of the quilombola struggles in Palmares. It was from the articulation between different segments of black people in Federal District that it was possible to establish the tradition of performing public acts, concerts, seminars and parties in November. In 1986, the Azeviche party stood out among the many celebrations in Brasília and in the so-called “satellite cities”.

Monumento Zumbi Rio de Janeiro (1986)Geledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne

Zumbi dos Palmares Monument - Rio de Janeiro 1986

On November 20, 1986, Avenida Presidente Vargas in Rio de Janeiro, at the height of Little Africa / Praça XI, started to be occupied by the monument in Homage to Zumbi dos Palmares. The seven-meter-high composition was formed by a 38m x 16m base overlaid by the bronze replica of the representation of the head of an old king of Ilê Ifé. The initiative, the result of Law no. 689, from 1983, gave rise to controversies, somewhat unfortunate comments by well-intentioned experts and reframes promoted by Black Movement activists and followers of African religions. Unlike the reference image, the origins of Zumbi dos Palmares did not refer to the territory of present-day Nigeria, but to regions occupied by Bantu-speaking peoples located in the regions of Congo and Angola. As time went by, despite historical inconsistencies, the monument to Zumbi dos Palmares was consecrated as an affirmation of black struggles in Brazil. Precisely for this reason it has been a space for celebrations and also the target of racist vandalism.

Marcha da Falsa Abolição (1988-05-11) by Januário GarciaGeledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne

THE FALSE ABOLITION MARCH

Defeating the image of the “princess Isabel, redeemer”, Zumbi dos Palmares was elevated to the place of central personality of the Centenary of the Abolition of Slavery in Brazil, in 1988. Activists and organizations of the Black Movement were intensely dedicated to the dismantling of the myth of racial democracy, and the affirmation of a historical narrative that recognized the role of black people in the defense of their own freedom was fundamental. The False Abolition March, held on Wednesday, May 11, in Rio de Janeiro, is one of the most striking examples of this turnaround that still impacts Brazil's image of itself.

CULTNE DOC - Marcha de 88 - Reflexão 125 anosGeledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne

Cuti e Vera Lopes em leitura dramática do texto Tenho Medo de Monólogo (2017) by Antonio TerraGeledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne

Vera Lopes on the nationalization of Black Awareness Day
00:00

"THERE WAS A NATIONAL DESIRE"

"What we did and what we did ... was done ... as true there ... without measuring how far what was being done would reach ..."
This is how this testimony of the Afro-gaúcha actress Vera Lopes begins about the nationalization process of November 20 as Black Consciousness Day.

Instituto Geledés da Mulher Negra, From the collection of: Geledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne
Show lessRead more
Rede de Historiadoras Negras e Historiadores Negros, From the collection of: Geledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne
Show lessRead more
CULTNE - Acervo Digital de Cultura Negra, From the collection of: Geledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne
Show lessRead more
Credits: Story

This panel is part of the virtual exhibitions project Our Histories: lives, struggles and knowledge of Black people, a partnership between the Network of Black Historians with Geledés Black Women Institute and the Cultne Collection.

Collective curatorship: Aline Najara da Silva Gonçalves, Ana Flávia Magalhães Pinto, Bethania Pereira, Bruno Pinheiro, Carlos Silva Júnior, Fernanda Oliveira da Silva, Francisco Phelipe Cunha Paz, Jonatas Roque Ribeiro, Leonardo Angelo da Silva and Lucimar Felisberto dos Santos
Image search: Ana Flávia Magalhães Pinto
Text: Ana Flávia Magalhães Pinto
Audio Editing: Leonardo Ângelo da Silva
Video Editing: Asfilófio Filho
Production: Ana Flávia Magalhães Pinto and Leonardo Ângelo da Silva
Technical review: Aline Najara da Silva Gonçalves, Bethania Pereira and Lucimar Felisberto dos Santos
Administration: Natalia de Sena Carneiro

Special thanks: Ana Célia da Silva, Inaldete Pinheiro de Andrade, Januário Garcia, Lydia Garcia, Marcelo Tomé, Marcus Guellwaar Adún Gonçalves, Silvany Euclênio and Vera Lopes.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Explore more
Related theme
Black history in Brazil
Explore the history, arts, and culture of Afro-Brazilian experience
View theme
Google apps