The Império da Tijuca Samba school’s Carnaval parade that paid homage to black women was the 2013 Series A champion in Rio de Janeiro! (See short video below). Their Carnaval presentation was part of an overall campaign seeking to highlight the accomplishments of black Brazilian women today as well as in Brazil’s history. The essay below is an example of what we try to do here at Black Women of Brazil. Share the experiences, lives, accomplishments and struggles of the black Brazilian woman. Read below (Courtesy of G. R. E. S. E. Império da Tijuca blog)
Headline: Império da Tijuca homage to black woman is Series A champion in Rio
On the world scene, the black woman has achieved various victories. They were long, hard fought battles along difficult paths, that brought together marks of slavery and prejudice, but that didn’t impede the success of many of them and being like this, for us, all these warriors are pérolas negras (black pearls) of rare value and full of grace.
Aída dos Santos
Victorious at the top of the podiuns overcoming prejudice for being women and also black. The conquests in some many competitions consecrated winners like Aída dos Santos in track and field and Elaine Pereira de Souza in swimming.
Marta Viera da Silva
Daiane dos Santos
In most recent times we had the victorious consecration of Marta Viera da Silva, considered the “Pelé de Saias (Pelé in a skirt)” because of her abilities on the soccer field. Also consecrated was Daiane dos Santos, the first gymnast to win a gold medal in the world championship of artistic gymnastics.
In literature we are bequeathed works of infinite material and cultural value. Consecrated in their works are the (re)invention of themes connected to their centrality, Afro-Brazilian roots and slavery. They also speak of love, suffering and victories obtained by the feminine gender.
Auta de Souza and Maria Firmina dos Reis
Glories given to the poems of Auta de Souza, to the stories of Maria Firmina dos Reis, to every work of Alzira Rufino in defense of the rights of women and for also leading the Casa de Cultura da Mulher Negra (House of Culture of the Black Woman), perpetuating with the project the history and importance of black women in Brazil and in the world.
They shine in national dramaturgy. On theatre stages and on the television screens they enchanted all with staging of dramas, comedies and romances that are present in the day to day in world history.
Ruth de Souza, Neusa Borges, Zezé Motta and Chica Xavier
Stars like Ruth deSouza, Neusa Borges, Zezé Motta and Chica Xavier were pioneers representing black women in various artistic productions, overcoming prejudice and even the attempt of imposed censorship various times because of skin color. However, the consecration of the black woman in dramaturgy came with Taís Araújo and her interpretation of Helena, the first black female protagonist character in a Brazilian television drama in what is considered “horário nobre (prime time).”
Paula do Salgueiro and Pinah
Heiresses born of African peoples that express in dance their emotions, their desires and their faith, black women also acclaimed as extraordinary dancers. In all rhythms, they perform in marvelous spectaculars, reminding us of names like Paula do Salgueiro and Pinah, that they enchanted us showing the purest Samba in their feet and passion for Carnaval parading masterfully through their Samba schools.
We must also render homage to Mercedes Baptista that danced ballet on the revolutionized floor the art of dancing taking to the Municipal Theatre of Rio de Janeiro all the ginga(special sway) and sensuality of Afro dance. Founder of the folkloric ballet group that takes her name, she brought together black ballerinas that introduced to classic ballet African dance steps like the lundu and the jongo, movements of Candomblé orixás.
Leci Brandão and Alcione
Consecrated also by the sublime gift of singing, our notable black women enchanted and enchant stages around the world. We exalt the enchantment of Alcione, Leci Brandão, Margareth Menezes, Mart’nália and so many others that lend their talents to songs of so many songwriters.
Mart’nália and Margareth Menezes
Clementina de Jesus
With much emotion we also pay this homage to true divas of Brazilian music like Dona Ivone Lara, black and first songwriter of Samba-Enredo, and the eternal, Clementina de Jesus, the “mãe quelé (mother quelé)” that sang with all the force of black ancestry and the partideira Jovelina Pérola Negra, a Sambista that became the immortal queen of Partido-Alto composing and interpreting Repentes and Pagodes in the rodas de Samba of Rio de Janeiro.
Dona Ivone Lara and Jovelina Pérola Negra
Winners in all the areas and functions that they performed. Doctors and nurses, today also judges, superintendents and lawyers. Spiritual leaders in diverse religions. Professors, market stall holders, domestics, housewives (1). They are also pure-hearted mothers in love.
And with this same heart that beats, radiant from happiness for exalting the black woman, we beg Nossa Senhora Aparecida (Our Lady Aparecida), the black mother of all Brazilians, that she bless all of us and our country. Bless also all of these marvelous black women. Warriors, daring, beautiful, they are the motive of our singing in this Carnaval.
We request that she keeps all of our community well. Bless all Tijuca and Morro da Formiga that today sing strong to transform their biggest dream into reality. Bless the imperial crown of our green and white pavilion, so that Império da Tijuca can make its Carnaval a moment more and more special.
Bless us always patron mother, protector of all of us.
Here’s a short clip of a Império da Tijuca rehearsal
NEGRA PÉROLA MULHER (IMPÉRIO DA TIJUCA)
Negra, Pérola, Mulher (Black, Pearl, Woman)
Authores: Júnior Pernambuco and Diego Martins de Araújo
In the beginning, there was only darkness and emptiness
Orunmilá, my supreme God, bequeathed to me the gift of creation and of transformation
I am Ìyámì, the great ancestral mother, lady of the birds, Eleèye
Matizei color and life, I decorated these exuberant parts, Africa
I made you cradle of civilizations, residence of warriors
In this land I became Gèlédé, enchanting black woman
I dance for life, for nature
I awakened passions affronting customs and traditions thousands of years old
My audacity was a seducing perfume that enchanted the great king
I am a strong woman, I challenged and was challenged
I never surrendered, never feared anything
By the hands of the white man I was taken to a new world
A slave of pain and suffering
But I resisted, became quilombola
My warrior blood made me an audacious queen
Saint and beautiful like a rose
I eternalized the clamor to my enchanting gods
To the of the sound of drums all were praised
My beauty was the source of inspiration of artists in their creations
I was a star, a black muse, female inspiration
I am a Brazilian woman on the scene
I am in sport, dance and literature
I have the gift of singing and enchanting
Today, I am victorious; there are no barriers or borders
I am a symbol of faith of a whole nation
Patron mother of all hearts
I am black woman, black pearl
Negra, Pérola, Mulher
No início, apenas a escuridão e o vazio.
Orunmilá, meu Deus supremo, me legou o dom da criação e da transformação,
Sou Ìyámì, a grande mãe ancestral, senhora dos pássaros, Eleèye.
Matizei cor e vida, emoldurei paragens exuberantes, África.
Fiz-te berço de civilizações, morada de guerreiros.
Nesta terra me tornei Gèlédé, negra feiticeira,
Danço para a vida, para a natureza.
Despertei paixões afrontando costumes e tradições milenares,
Minha ousadia foi perfume sedutor que ao grande rei encantou.
Sou mulher forte, desafiei e fui desafiada,
Nunca me rendi, nunca temi nada.
Pelas mãos do branco fui levada a um novo mundo,
Escrava da dor e do sofrimento.
Mas resisti, tornei-me quilombola,
Meu sangue de guerreira me fez rainha audaciosa,
Santa e bela como uma rosa.
Perpetuei o clamor aos meus deuses encantados,
Ao som dos tambores todos foram louvados.
Minha beleza foi fonte de inspiração dos artistas em suas criações,
Fui estrela, negra musa, mulher inspiração.
Sou mulher brasileira em cena,
Estou no esporte, na dança e literatura,
Tenho o dom de cantar e encantar.
Hoje, sou vitoriosa, não há barreiras ou fronteiras,
Sou símbolo de fé de toda uma nação,
Mãe padroeira de todos os corações.
Sou negra, pérola mulher
Source: G. R. E. S. E. Império da Tijuca
1. For just a few examples of some of these great black Brazilian women, see our series on “first black woman” here.