Note from BW of Brazil: Last Tuesday, May 13th, was the commemoration of 126 years of the abolition of slavery in Brazil. Since the early 1970s, Movimento Negro groups have rejected any celebration of this date as the condition of Afro-Brazilians today remains that of the condition of second class citizen. Any real discussion of the topic must begin with what happened in terms of the black Brazilian woman on May 14th, 1888, the day after Brazil’s remaining slaves were liberated? What is the social situation of black Brazilians in general? Along with these questions, one must also put to rest the myth that Princess Isabel, who signed the Golden Law officially ending slavery was the hero of that day in history as well as the idea that true liberation was attained that day. The following article highlights these ideas.
Olodum: Princess Isabel is not the heroine of abolition
The founder of the group Olodum, João Jorge Rodrigues, said that slavery was a practice in decline at the time of abolition: “We do not want that this attitude [the signing of the Lei Áurea or Golden Law] is viewed with an aura of sanctity. The real black heroes are Zumbi of Palmares, Lucas Dantas, Manuel Faustino and all important black characters of the era of empire.”
By Marcelo Brandão
The founder of Olodum, João Jorge Rodrigues, was interviewed this Tuesday (13) on the TV program Espaço Público (Public Space) on the TV Brasil channel. In one of his responses, he rejected the idea of Princess Isabel being heroine of Brazil’s history. In his view, the practice of slavery was in decline at the time of abolition. “We don’t want that attitude [the signing of the Golden Law] being viewed with an aura of sanctity. The real black heroes are Zumbi dos Palmares, Lucas Dantas, Manuel Faustino and all the important black characters of the era of empire,” he said.
Remembering the 126 years of the abolition of slavery, completed on Tuesday (May 13th), Rodrigues reinforced the idea advocated by social movements that the date should not be celebrated: “It’s not possible to keep someone chained up for 20 years, and then suddenly, free him and order to run.” For him, the Golden Law lacked devices that would ensure more opportunities for newly freed blacks.
The founder of Olodum lamented the delay in the country to give due importance to quality public education in promoting equality among all Brazilians. “We came out of slavery, entered into the republic, went through Canudos, when the oppressive power rose up against a minority. Many years later, only now, has education begun to be discussed as a springboard for development. We need to enhance quality basic public education,” said Rodrigues.
Supporter of racial quota policies of both universities and in public service, he believes that more blacks should enter higher education through this system. He, however, argues that quotas are only temporary and requests policies to ensure the ascension of blacks into post-graduate education.
“We need to ensure the permanence of these people, help them to go to graduate school, to the higher degrees within education. We have to improve so that, there at the front, [the quota policy] ceases to exist.” Last Tuesday (13), the officers of the Senate imposed a quota of 20% for blacks in the next courses of the Casa (regiment of the Senate).
Roberts also recalled the trajectory of Olodum, the group that he founded and that, in the 90s, gained fame in the music industry with national and international repercussions. He remembered that the group that was born to sing African culture. According to him, Olodum helped form groups around communities, defending their interests and combating discrimination. “Olodum speaks against racism, but multiplied itself in other groups of Brazil, who have adopted the idea that the community is strength. Thus, these groups go beyond the music and form more solid associations,” he said.
Source: Agência Brasil