Since 1995, every ten years, the Black Movement has promoted national marches in Brasilia, the Brazilian capital, in November. The last one was the Black Women March against Racism and Violence and for the Good Living in 2015.
Black National Convention for the Constitution: meetings and tensions with the Brazilian State
The thousands of people from all over the country that occupied the avenues of Esplanada dos Ministérios in 1995 certainly represented a milestone in the history of the Black Movement in Brazil. To understand the profound meanings of the Zumbi dos Palmares March against Racism, for Citizenship and Life, it would be necessary to dimension the collective nationwide experience acquired through several other actions that made possible Black activists formulate strategies for confrontation and dialogue with the institutions of the Brazilian State. In this sense, the achievement of the National Black Convention for the Constitution cannot be overlooked. There were in the federal capital on August 26 and 27, 1986 a total of 185 participants, representing 63 entities from 16 states of the federation. The discussions resulted in the document that was registered in a notary office by Maria da Graça dos Santos, Maria Lúcia Junior and Maria Luiza Junior, that were then member of the MNU and, who tells us a little about this story.
Maria Luiza Junior, March in Salvador against the sterelization of Black Women (1984) by Acervo pessoal de Maria Luiza JuniorGeledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne
CULTNE - Convenção Nacional do Negro 1986Geledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne
The crossroad of 1988: between the local and the nationalGeledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne
The crossroad of 1988: between the local and the national
The centenary of the abolition of slavery, in 1988, was marked by indisputable demonstrations of political strength carried out by entities of the Black Movement in all regions of Brazil. In addition to internal meetings, the street actions were essential. In May, the “March against the Farse of Abolition” occupied Avenida Presidente Vargas in Rio de Janeiro. The intention of reaching the Zumbi Monument, however, was challenged by agents of the repression of the new democratic times. Even though, an unforgettable and embarrassing answer was given through the cry of thousands of voices: "We will march until where racism let us!"
In São Paulo, attempts to use the May 13th to reinforce the myth of racial democracy were also challenged. National Day of Denunciation against Racism was the only possibility to make the date a cause for celebration.
In the same month, Black organizations gathered in the Municipal Square of Salvador, Bahia around 5,000 people. It was the apex of the “100 YEARS WITHOUT ABOLITION” march. Street actions continued on November 20th, when the Afro-Bahian musical and cultural groups Ilê Aiyê, Olodum, Afreketê and, Muzenza, promoted, along with MNU, another edition of the March of Black Consciousness in the Liberdade neighborhood.
Back cover from Bruxas, espíritos e outros bichos (1992), of Edson Lopes Cardoso (1992) by Carlos Moura / Private collection of Edson Cardoso)Geledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne
A political project for Brazil from a Black point of view
Even in the context of the centenary of abolition and the new Constitution, national elites used the myth of racial democracy as a shield to keep structural inequalities untouched and to relativize the relevance of Black People to national life. Meanwhile, an increasing number of Black activists shared the position that assume the centrality of racism in the country and articule the demands of the majority of the population in defense of their right to citizenship would be fundamental actions to the country avoid see itself as a denial of its own story.
A national march by the Black Movement in Brasília would be the best expression of autonomy for this collective social being, who had at the time the historical conditions to offer a deeply democratic Political Project for Brazil. This is evident in the testimony of Edson Lopes Cardoso, a member of the MNU and leader of the National Executive of the March in 1995.
Jornal do MNU n. 20, p. 12 (1991-12) by Private collection of Ana Flávia Magalhães PintoGeledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne
Black Consciousness in Verses
“‘ We’re on our own’, so it’s up to us to demand the power.” That was what defended the MNU poet and activist Jônatas Conceição during the twenty years of the National Black Awareness Day, in 1991, citing South African activist Steve Biko. The increase of ideas and proposals for the Black struggle was advancing across the country, even though, again, the realization of a national march was not the priority.
Until arriving in Brasilia in 1995, the long path taken from many starting points was packed in prose and verse, like those gathered by Jornal do MNU in 1991. Among so many others offered by our black literature, we highlight the excerpt of “Consciência Negra no Brazil ”, authored by Pará activist Nilma Bentes, from the Center for Black Studies and Defense in Pará (Cedenpa), an entity created by her and nine other Black activists in 1982. Nilma provided us the full version of the poem, published in pamphlet, which features the illustration of Cape Verdean artist Rosário Cabral (Djosa).
CULTNE - Poema " Consciência Negra no Brasil" - Nilma BentesGeledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne
Calendar of Activities of the Zumbi dos Palmares March against Racism, for Citizenship and Life (1995-10)Geledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne
“We are arriving...”
“The good news travels all over the country: Black people are getting ready to go to Brasília. It is no longer a matter of saying that the State omits itself and that the State does not do anything. We are going to Brasilia to say what the State should do. [...] Idealized by the Black Movement, the March is being built as a unified action involving new partnerships, which attest to the growth of our social base and the widening of the fronts of struggles against racism: unionists, popular sectors, women, students , non-governmental organizations, rural communities ”.
This was a small part of what the National Executive of the Zumbi dos Palmares March against Racism, for Citizenship and Life had to say when it released 400 thousand copies of the Jornal da Marcha in October 1995. The bulletin ratified what was being organized over the past few decades. The call also reached families, religious and cultural groups, domestic workers and others who felt affected by the mobilization. It was an unprecedented experience for the Brazilian black militancy, in its commitment to the consolidation of a mass movement at the end of the 20th century. Ieda Leal, current national coordinator of the MNU, recalls how the mobilization was in the state of Goiás.
“We are arriving from the quilombos' ground, / we are arriving in the sound of the drums, / we are from the New Palmares, / we have come to fight.”
On Monday, November 20, 1995, about 30 thousand people took part in the Zumbi dos Palmares March against Racism, for Citizenship and Life. The long bus rides did not take the tempers out of women and men who went from the former Grand Circular to the National Congress. “Photographer Carlos Moura, responsible for precious records of the black struggle in the Federal District followed since the morning the lively arrival of the most diverse groups. ”These are images that remind us of Milton Nascimento's verses for the Missa dos Quilombos, which was part of the cultural program for the end of the March that year.
Artistic performance at the Zumbi March - 300 years (1995-11-20) by Carlos MouraGeledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne
Capoeira players at the Zumbi March - 300 years (1995-11-20) by Carlos MouraGeledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne
Unionists at the Zumbi March - 300 years (1995-11-20) by Carlos MouraGeledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne
Reparation Moviment at the Zumbi March - 300 years (1995-11-20) by Carlos MouraGeledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne
Entities of the Black Moviment and political parties at the Zumbi March - 300 years (1995-11-20) by Carlos MouraGeledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne
Overview picture of the Zumbi March - 300 years (1995-11-20) by Carlos MouraGeledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne
1st National Meeting of Black Rural Communities. Jornal do MNU, year X, n. XX, p. 11 (1996-02/1996-03) by Available in: I National http://negritos.com.br/2019/01/15/nego-no-20/.Geledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne
After three days dedicated to the 1st National Meeting of Black Rural Communities, representatives of 16 Quilombo communities joined the march in celebration of the 300th anniversary of the immortality of Zumbi dos Palmares. The meeting marked the foundation of the National Coordination of Articulation of Black Rural Quilombo Communities (Conaq). Although the legitimacy of entities such as Cedenpa (PA), CCN (MA) and Coisa de Negro (PI) was recognized in the struggles for the regulation of Quilombo lands at the time, it was necessary to point out the specificity of Quilombo people demands. This way, their demands would not be lost among the Black Movement's urban sector priorities. Sociologist Givânia Maria da Silva, quilombola from Conceição das Crioulas, Salgueiro (PE), assesses the importance of this articulation to this day.
CULTNE - Marcha Zumbi dos Palmares - 1995 - Brasília DFGeledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne
Marcha Zumbi 1995
Document of Zumbi dos Palmares March against Racism, for Citzenship and Life. (1996)Geledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne
The document of Zumbi dos Palmares March to Brasil
“We believe today on the possibility to do not dispute anymore the spaces within other projects for our problems, which are considered by them to be minor. But we are believing on the possibility that, through our questions, we can effectively touch, and touch very deeply, on issues that concern society as a whole.”
This statement by Luiza Bairros opens the Document of the Zumbi dos Palmares March against Racism, for Citizenship and Life. Symbolic, it marks a position dear to sectors of the Black Movement in the following years. In order to record how the purposes mobilized through the march would be carried out, the notebook gathers a diagnosis regarding the themes: racism and school, racial division of labor, health, racial violence, foreign relations, and democracy in question; followed by a “Program to Overcome Racism and Racial Inequality”. It also incorporates contributions from the 1st Meeting of Black Rural Communities; the presidential decree that created the Interministerial Working Group to value the Black population; and the bill sent by the Movement for Reparations (MPR).
Bill on the Racial Equality Statute presented by the congressman and later senator Paulo Paim and Curricular Guidelines For the Education of Ethnic-Racial Relations that regulates the Law no. 10.639 / 2003 (2003/2004) by Publicity PhotosGeledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne
“The struggle keeps on”
After the 1995 march, the Black Movement, of course, was not limited to the Interministerial Working Group. Struggle agendas established in the 1970s continued to be disputed at the local, state and federal levels. The pressure in defense of public policies to combat racism was expressed, among other examples, in the enactment of Law no. 10.639, which made the teaching of African and Afro-Brazilian history and culture mandatory from 2003; in the first experiences of affirmative actions for the access of black students to higher education, starting at UERJ in 2000; and in the debates around the Racial Equality Statute, which would be approved in 2010, in the form of Law no. 12.288. Another important experience that precedes the Zumbi +10 March was the participation of the Brazilian delegation in the III World Conference against Racism, held in Durban, South Africa, in 2001.
Zumbi +10 March: agreements and divergences
Brasília, July 3th and 4th, 2004. In response to the call from Ìrohìn, an entity of Edson Cardoso, about 30 activists participated in the meeting whose objectives were: evaluation of the recent years trajectory of the Black movement and analysis of the current situation, as well as definition of strategies for the Zumbi +10 March in the following year. The meeting sought to articulate the diversity of opinions and tendencies of the Black Movement in favor of collective action, at a time marked by some advances and the aggravation of many other impasses dear to the overcoming of racism. In the face of internal differences that could not be accommodated in the following months, two marches were held in November 2005: a first on the 16th and another on the 22nd.
CULTNE - Reuniao 2005 - Marcha Zumbi dos Palmares + 10Geledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne
EnegreSer pamphlet for mobilization for the Zumbi+10 March (2005) by Private collection of Ana Flávia Magalhães PintoGeledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne
In the early 2000s, a number of reasons motivated the formation of collectives of black students who were or longed to be at the universities. Different expressions of what we call “Black Consciousness” were experienced by young people who sometimes associated themselves with existing entities, sometimes created new possibilities for political action. “EnegreSer - Black Collective of the Federal District and Surroundings” was part of a scenario shared among the Nenu-UFBA, Nenu-UEFS and Ubuntu-Uneb (Bahia); Cenners (Rio Grande do Sul); Canbenas (Goiás); PVNC, CONEI-IFCS / UFRJ, DeNegrir, Aqualtune and Coletivo Luiz Gama (Rio de Janeiro), among others. EnegreSer was among the new organizations that also took on the task of carrying out the Zumbi March +10, in Brasília.
Cris Pereira, now a samba singer and historian, was one of many other young women who did not participate in the 1995 Zumbi March, even though she lived in Brasília. But the expansion of black struggles in the Federal District meant that she was later composing the organization of the Zumbi + 10 March.
Different generations at Zumbi +10 March
In the march of 1995, Ieda Leal, from MNU, was pregnant with Naomi Leal. In the Zumbi March +10, at the age of nine, the girl marched on her own that Wednesday 16th November. In this photograph that is part of the collection of the Leal family, she is in the company of Iyá Neide Ribeiro de Oyá, from Egbe Awo Ase Iya Mesan Orun, Ribeirão Preto (SP).
Pamphlet of Zumbi +10 March – (2005-11) by Private Collection of Ana Flávia Magalhães PintoGeledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne
Pamphlet of Zumbi +10 March – November 16th
Zumbi +10 March Special Issue (November 16th)Geledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne
Ìrohìn – Zumbi +10 March Special Issue
In a Special issue , full of photographs taken by Carlos Moura, Lindomar Cruz, Cláudia Santos, Alexandra Martins and Jeferson Souza, the Ìrohìn newspaper documented both formal records and the list of 167 entities that took part in the March and the Manifest to the Nation, delivered to President Lula; as for affective memories such as those of Eustáquio Lawa, who offered an account of the hardships and joys experienced during the thirty hours between the reception of the delegations and the closing of the march.
Zumbi +10 March poster. Brasília (2005-11) by Private Collection of Ana Flávia Magalhães Pinto)Geledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne
Zumbi +10 March poster – November 22th
Gilberto Leal. (2020) by Private collection of Gilberto LealGeledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne
Regarding the debates that marked the ideological and organizational disparities for the Zumbi + 10 March, Gilberto Leal, from the National Coordination of Black Entities (Conen), affirms that the main point of debate and determinant for the institutions that supported the March held at November 22th was the “immediate approval of the [Racial Equality] Statute”. In the audio, Gilberto gives more details about the context and the process.
Zumbi and João Cândido
The March on the 22nd honored João Cândido Felisberto, the black leader of the Revolta da Chibata. In 2005, the commemorations of 310 years of Zumbi's immortality coincided with the 95 years of the sailors' uprising in Rio de Janeiro, in 1910.
Jornal da Marcha (2005-11) by Private collection of Ana Flávia Magalhães PintoGeledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne
The March’s newspaper - 2005
The March’s newspaper was a newsletter produced by the entities that carried out Zumbi +10 March on November 22th. The newspaper summarizes the history of the Black Movement in Brazil, its demands and struggles. It demonstrates how the demands of Black people were attended by the State, however, already showed “the political difference of the sectors of the Black Movement”.
Nilma Bentes – Cedenpa (2019) by Picture of Aissa Mattos / Private collection of Nilma BentesGeledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne
Black Women’s March – November, 2015
In 2015, there was no March Zumbi +20, but the March of Black Women against Racism and Violence and for the Good Living. Although Black women's organizations played a key role in carrying out the Zumbi +10 March and could propose the continuation of the previous editions, the final proposal, raised by Nilma Bentes in 2011, turned to the statement of July 25: The African-Latin American and Caribbean Women's Day.
A curious fact is that the first national edition of the March of the Black Women was supposed to have happened on that date, but several setbacks caused the center of Brasília to be occupied again in November, on the 18th, this time by 50 thousand people, black women in their vast majority.
CULTNE DOC - Marcha das Mulheres Negras 2015 - Brasília DFGeledés Instituto da Mulher Negra | Rede de Historiadores Negros | Acervo Cultne
This panel is part of the project of virtual exhibitions Our Histories: lives, struggles and knowledges of Black people, in asssociation between Rede de Historiadoras Negras e Historiadores Negros, Geledés – Instituto da Mulher Negra and Acervo Cultne.
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 e Lucimar Felisberto dos Santos
Research and interviews: Ana Flávia Magalhães Pinto, Bethania Pereira, Leonardo Angelo da Silva
Texts: Ana Flávia Magalhães Pinto e Leonardo Angelo da Silva
Audio editing: Leonardo Angelo da Silva
Video editing: Asfilofio Filho e Bruno Pinheiro
Production: Ana Flávia Magalhães Pinto, Bruno Pinheiro e Leonardo Angelo da Silva
Technical Review: Ana Flávia Magalhães Pinto
Management: Natalia Sena Carneiro
Special thanks: Allyne Andrade, André Santana, Bia Onça, Carlos Moura, Cris Pereira, Edson Lopes Cardoso, Gilberto Leal, Givânia Maria da Silva,
Ieda Leal, João Jorge Rodrigues (Olodum), José Carlos Ferreira, Lázaro Roberto, Márcio André dos Santos, Maria Cláudia Cardoso Ferreira, Maria Luiza Junior,
Mário Pam, Sandro Teles e Vovô do Ilê Aiyê, Martha Rosa Figueira Queiroz (Negritos) e Nilma Bentes.