November 20this said to be the day that the great Palmares quilombo (maroon society of runaway slaves) leader, Zumbi, was killed in 1695. In 1971 a group of militants and researchers in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul in southern Brazil, proposed the celebration of November 20th as the Day of Black Consciousness in Brazil rather than the traditionally celebrated May 13th date, which was the day slavery was abolished in Brazil in 1888.
As socioeconomic statistics prove that Afro-Brazilians continue to face discrimination and second class citizenship in comparison to the Brazil’s white population, Grupo Palmares suggested a remembrance of November 20th as a day of resistance to be celebrated while 124 years after slavery, true abolition has yet to come, making May 13th a farse.
In Rio de Janeiro, the celebrations began at Praça XI, around the statue of Zumbi. With the participation of religions of African origin, the washing of the monument was done by the afoxé Filhos de Gandhi (Sons of Gandhi), with the presence of rodas de baianas, capoeira martial arts specialists and the Unidos de Vila Isabel Samba School. The activities proceeded to the Cais do Valongo harbor area, where researchers estimated the landing of about 1 million enslaved Africans in the 18th century.
In Salvador, Bahia, the hair, the clothes, the colors and the music, elements of black culture that had long been subject to persecution and humiliation, stood out in the streets on a walk from the headquarters of Ilê Aiyê, in the neighborhood of Liberdade to the Pelourinho, the Historic Centre where slaves were publicly whipped.
With the participation of about 20 thousand people, the Secretariat for the Promotion of Racial Equality (Sepromi) launched on the occasion, the campaign Diga não ao racismo! Vamos garantir o futuro da Juventude Negra (Say no to racism! Let’s ensure the future of Black Youth) calling on the whole society to participate in the creation of more opportunities for young blacks in Bahia.
There is a history of black people without Brazil
But there is no history of Brazil without black people
In São Paulo, the Comitê Contra o Genocídio da Juventude Negra e Periférica de São Paulo (Committee Against Genocide of Black Youth and the Periphery of São Paulo) brought together relatives of victims of direct violence, Movimento Negro (black movement organizations), social movements in the country and the city, community and union leaders, associations, hip-hop groups, alternative press, leftist organizations and other bodies representing civil society.
The act and march with the slogan Cotas sim, Genocídio Não (Quotas Yes, Genocide No)! began on Avenida Paulista with the Committee demanding an immediate meeting with the Justice Minister José Eduardo Cardozo, and a public hearing attended by Cardozo and governor Geraldo Alckmin to discuss the alarming rates of black youth being murdered in the city. The slogan is an obvious reference to the battle over the system of quotas to give more Afro-Brazilians access to Brazilian universities and the rates of homicide affecting Afro-Brazilians that should be denounced as genocide. Although the denouncement of genocide was a battle cry at the march in São Paulo, as we have shown, due to alarming rates of the assassination of Afro-Brazilians in general, black youth and in one state in particular, black women, this march could have just as easily taken place in states such as Bahia, Alagoas, Pernambuco, Rio de Janeiro, Paraíba or Espírito Santo.
Today, the Day/Month of Black Consciousness is celebrated in more than 360 cities throughout Brazil. Below are a few photos from various celebrations of the Month/Day of Black Consciousness.