Movimento Negro in mourning: Former Minister of Racial Equality dies at age 63 – Expressions of admiration and sorrow continue to pour in

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Luiza Bairros (1953-2016): “We are heirs of an historic struggle, initiated by many before us”

Note from BW of Brazil: Sad news to report today. A few days ago we all received the news that Luiza Bairros, the former Minister of Politics for the Promotion of Racial Equality under the first Dilma Rousseff administration, passed away after a short battle with lung cancer. Needless to say, the news of her passing sent shock waves throughout Afro-Brazilian activist circles as for many years, Bairros was on the front line in the struggle for racial equality in Brazil. Although an activist for several decades, she gained the most recognition and visibility representing the black struggle within the Federal Government. Over the course of the existence of this blog, Luiza Bairros’s name appeared in 37 posts, demonstrating her importance and prominence in issues of race. In reality, we could have featured her in numerous more posts, such as a great interview from early 2015 that I’ve been meaning to post since then. The piece always got put on the back burner and now we will post it posthumously. Luiza Helena Bairros was a warrior in the battle to improve conditions of the Afro-Brazilian population and she will be missed dearly!


Ex-Minister of Racial Equality Luiza Bairros dies at 63

Former minister of Secretaria de Políticas de Promoção da Igualdade Racial (Secretary of Politics for the Promotion of Racial Equality) Luiza Helena de Bairros passed away on Tuesday the 12th in Porto Alegre capital city of Rio Grande do Sul). Luiza was 63 and was battling lung cancer; she held the chair of minister in the Dilma Rousseff government between the years 2011 and 2014; in Brasília, there will be a memorial activity at 5pm in Zumbi square in her honor

By Felipe Pontes

This morning (July 12th), intellectual and activist of the Movimento Negro Luiza Helena Bairros, 63, died in Porto Alegre at age 63. Bairros was the former minister of the Secretariat of Public Policies for Racial Equality, a position he held between 2011 and 2014. She was a victim of lung cancer, that battled for three months.

According to family information, the body of the former minister will be presented in a wake until tomorrow (13), when she should be buried.

One of the main Brazilian personalities in the fight against racism, Luiza spent her last years traveling the country giving lectures and working intensely in the articulation of the Movimento Negro (black movement), an activity she carried out for over 40 years.

During her passage through the federal government, she was responsible for creating the Sistema Nacional de Promoção da Igualdade Racial (Sinapir or National System for the Promotion of Racial Equality), whose goal is to implement public policies to provide the população negra (black population) equal opportunities and authorities to combat discrimination and intolerance.

The principle form of carrying out Sinapir, as advocated by Luiza Bairros, is through coordination with local and state governments, through the creation of regional organs for the promotion of racial equality.

“Luiza was a tireless activist of the black cause and Brazilian democracy. Her work remains alive and remains a symbol of the struggle against prejudice and in favor of the best causes of national political life,” wrote the expelled President Dilma Rousseff in a statement in which she mourned the death of the former minister.

Born in Porto Alegre, Luiza Bairros majored in public administration from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul and was a PhD in Sociology from Michigan State University(USA). Between 2001 and 2005, she worked in programs of the United Nations (UN) against racism.

Residing in Salvador, Luiza Bairros was also one of the leading names of the Movimento Negro Unificado (Unified Black Movement or MNU).

“I lost a mother, a friend, a companion, a reference for all of life, the most daring and exquisite combination of intelligence, discipline, generosity and consistency that the Movimento Negro has produced in the last 40 years,” wrote the personal aide of former minister, lawyer Felipe Freitas, in his Facebook account.

In a statement, the Secretariat for Policies for the Promotion of Racial Equality (Seppir), of the Ministério da Justiça e Cidadania (Ministry of Justice and Citizenship), mourned the death of the former minister, who led the organ from 2011 to 2014. “Also in her management leading Seppir, occurred the effectiveness of affirmative action policies. One of them, established by Law No. 12.711/2012, guaranteed access to higher education for more than 150,000 black students throughout the country. Federal public universities and federal institutes of higher education gained in diversity and quality, highlighting the good grades of quota students and the low dropout rate of courses attended by these students,” the statement said.

Expressions of affection and loss for Luiza Bairros

Courtesy of Geledés

Since the news of the death of the former minister, politicians, artists, intellectuals and the public (many of whom have appeared on this blog) expressed themselves on the internet about this great loss. Check out a few comments below:

Lázaro Ramos

Lazaro Ramos
Post by actor Lázaro Ramos

I have just received with great sadness the news of the death of the dear Dr. Luíza Bairros. One of the greatest intellectuals of this country, a PhD in sociology, she was part of the development of policies combating racial inequality in the UN, a great thinker who dominated like no one questions about the black population in Brazil. I had the pleasure of her presence with us on (television program) Espelho so many times, always sharing her knowledge, wisdom and experience. One of the greatest women in the country, who will certainly create a huge loss in Brazil. We’ve become orphans of this brilliant mind.

Dilma Rousseff

Post by suspended President Dilma Rousseff

Today is a sad day for all of the Movimento Negro and those who struggle for racial equality in Brazil. The death of the beloved Luiza Bairros, former Minister of Promotion of Racial Equality in my first government, left us all very saddened.

Luiza was a tireless activist of the black cause and Brazilian democracy. Her work remains alive and remains a symbol of the struggle against prejudice and in favor of the best causes of the national political life.

My condolences to family, friends and companions in struggle. Rest assured that her memory will guide all of us in the struggle for racial and gender equality. We will always feel honored by the years of co-existing with Luiza Bairros.

Djamila Ribeiro

Post by activist Djamila Ribeiro

This picture was f the day I met her. I was there to hear her speak and I was more delighted than I ever was. In the end, I was dying of embarrassment to approaching her. How do you talk to someone who inspired you so much and whom you had as a life and bibliographic reference in your Master’s thesis? I lost my embarrassment and went. She warmly welcomed me.

Months later we saw each other in a seminar on violence against women and had dinner together. On the way from the hotel to the location of the dinner, I kept listening and watching in disbelief that I was there.

Luiza Bairros is an example for all of us. A brilliant woman of struggle. Is received in the party. She will be sorely missed.


Flávia Oliveira

Flavia Oliveira
Post by journalist Flávia Oliveira

Luiza Bairros, former minister of Racial Equality. # RIP

From her management came:

1) National System for the Promotion of Racial Equality, Sinapir, for organization and coordination of policies and services to overcome ethnic inequalities in the country.

2) Effectiveness of affirmative action policies. One of them (Law 12.711/2012) guaranteed access to higher education to more than 150,000 black students.

3) With the Law 12.990/2014, a reserve of 20% of seats for blacks in federal competitions, more than three thousand pretos e pardos (blacks and browns) entered public service until the end of 2015.…/nota-de-pesar-morre-luiza-bairro…

Sidney Santiago Kuanza

Sidney Santiago
Post by actor Sidney Santiago Kuanza

My encounter with Luiza, in the F. Da Performance Negra in Salvador 2015. My picture of her for our Campaign #culturasemracismo. Our minister, our priestess of political wefts, Luiza Bairros, a leader  against genocídio negro (black genocide) in Brazil, and a key piece in the fight against racism in the country.

Marcos Romão

Marcos R
Post by activist/journalist Marcos Romão

A cry in the struggle with love!

In Orun my friend Luiza Bairros, is another who joined to protect us from the weather, during the paths to ensure the right to life of our juventude negra (black youth)!

Felipe Freitas

Felipe - Walmir
Post by lawyer Felipe Freitas and journalist Walmir Damasceno

This morning our partner Luiza Bairros died. She was facing a hard process of falling ill and today she departed. Her burial will be on Thursday (14) in Porto Alegre.

I lost a mother, a friend, a companion, a reference for all of life, the most daring and exquisite combination of intelligence; discipline; generosity and consistency that the Movimento Negro has produced in the last 40 years. It hurts a lot to bid this farewell.

Walmir Damasceno: We lost the warrior in the combat of invisibility subjected to traditional communities and peoples of African Matrix.

Nzaambi sambulwa wu (God bless you)

Dafididi fafa kenem! God has you in the kingdom of the Ancestors!!!

ReFem -Douglas
Post by rapper, producer, activist Janaína Refem and activist Douglas Belchior

Janaína Refem: Another one…a black reference in the struggle is gone.

What remains is the responsibility of continuing the struggle and not forgetting that our steps come from afar….This year is very heavy.

Douglas Belchior

Such a life and beautiful example for the younger ones! A black woman who took from the street to academia and then to politics the radical struggle against racism. People like her do not die. They go down in history!

Luiza Bairros, a gift!

Luiz Alberto S. Santos

Luiz Alberto
Post by Congressman Luiz Alberto

Today we lost one of the most important leaders of the Brazilian black movement. Participating more than 30 years in the Brazilian struggles against racism, Luiza leaves a legacy against all forms of violence and discrimination. She contributed being Secretary of SEPROMI – BA (Bahia) and in her tenure as minister of SEPPIR, Luiza collaborated on the construction of key programs such as Juventude Viva (Youth Alive) and the policy of quotas for blacks in public competitions.

As a parliamentarian, as Secretary of State in Bahia, as a militant of the Movimento Negro and as a friend, I co-existed with Luiza for 30 years and I am witness to her discipline and commitment to the struggle for a free and democratic Brazil. May the dreams and struggle of Luiza germinate every corner of this country and brote the embattled spirit of courageous solidarity of this great warrior. Luiza Bairros, a gift.

Source: Brasil 247Geledés

About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

1 Comment

  1. Great to hear of Brazilian heroines leading the struggle. The English-speaking world really needs to know more.

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