Ivete Sacramento: Pioneer in Brazil’s Affirmative Action system, first black woman dean of a university and now Secretary of Reparations Project in Salvador, Bahia

black Brazilian women

Ivete Sacramento

Ivete Sacramento was the first black woman to become dean of a Brazilian university, elected to the post at the Universidade do Estado da Bahia (Uneb or State University of Bahia) in 1998 and reelected in 2002. During her tenure, she doubled the number of courses offered and created the Programa Intensivo de Graduação de Docentes (Intensive Graduate Faculty Program). The educator is also active in the struggle against racial discrimination. She founded the Movimento Negro Unificado (Unified Black Movement) of Bahia.

 Ivete was also a full-time professor at the University of Bahia (Uneb) and dedicated herself to lectures aimed at teachers and students in public schools. Among the topics are social actions, public policy, combating racism and racial equality.

Ivete Sacramento receives an honor for the victory of the system of quotas at Uneb

A pioneer in the implementation of racial quotas in Brazil, Ivete was honored on October 30, 2012, by national and international entities related to education and the struggle for racial equality. The tribute was held at the Auditório da Casa do Comércio in Salvador, Bahia, with the presence of personalities who have also distinguished themselves in the struggle for racial democracy in Brazil.

“In the moment in which racial quotas were recognized as constitutional, and Congress and the Presidency of the Republic transformed it into law, she is more than just someone who took the first significant step towards its realization, she receives recognition from the society of our country,” said Antônio Carlos Vovô, president of the organization Ilê Aiyê, which is the oldest bloco afro in the country and one of the entities that participated in the tribute to former dean of Uneb.

Sacramento was dean of Uneb from 1998 to 2006. In 2002 she surprised the country by implementing quotas for black students at the university, sparking controversy and legal disputes across the country, with the constitutionality of quotas recognized unanimously by the Supreme Court (STF). In Bahia, the measure adopted at Uneb was followed by other state universities and the Federal University of Bahia.


“At the time we were judged as authoritative. Nobody really in fact knew what affirmative action was, what remedial measures were and why we were trying to implement quotas. But we had the backing of a reality denounced by IPEA (Instituto de Pesquisa Econômica Aplicada or Institute of Applied Economic Research) research showing that only 1% of blacks were in universities. I did a similar survey at Uneb. In a universe of 55,000 school students, only 1,500 declared themselves as black, of which only 116 were approved. We needed to act and Uneb became the first university to put into practice the quota system,” Sacramento remembered.

Ten years after its implementation, Uneb has trained more than 14,000 quota students in their undergraduate courses. Another 2,000 students were trained in graduate school courses, whose quotas were also implemented in 2012.

At Uneb, besides racial quotas, Ivete Sacramento expanded the number of campuses from 13 to 24, loacted in 24 cities, and increasing the number of courses offered from 46 to 89 and thus tripling the vacancies for students at the university, which jumped to more than 4,000. The performance of the former dean of the democratization of higher education was recognized in Brazil and abroad. She has received more than 30 awards and decorations, such as the Prêmio Cláudia (Claudia Award) (1) of 2007 in the category of public policies; the Medalha 2 de Julho (July 2ndMedal) , issued by the Government of Bahia, the Tomé de Souza Medal, the Câmara de Salvador and the Human Rights Award 2003 from the Presidency of the Republic.

The quota system model implemented by Sacramento is now being followed by higher education institutions across the country. Currently, more than 140 universities have adopted the system of quotas that after recognition by the Supreme Court of its constitutionality and obligation secured by law will extend to all public institutions of the country.


“Reparation is something seen with a certain reservation,” – Ivete Sacramento

In a ceremony held on January 2 of this year that was also attended by the current vice-mayor of the city of Salvador, Bahia, Célia Sacramento, Ivete assumed the post of Secretaria Municipal da Reparação (Semur or Municipal Secretary of Reparation).

The Municipal Secretariat of Reparation began preparing a bill that provides for a reservation of vacancies for commissioned positions for blacks in public service in Salvador, Bahia. “We have in the city (a population of consisting of) 79.84% blacks and browns, but we have not seen these ‘faces’ in power,” justified the secretary Ivete Sacramento, who was given the task of planning the project there.

At the time, there was still no definition of percentage or procedures to be adopted in practice of the project, which was in its initial phase. It was decided, however, the creation of a municipal council of the black community, in order to discuss and define the criteria for the implementation of the reservation of vacancies. The council, when put in effect, will be formed by civil society and representation of members of the secretariats.


Ivete (left), named Secretary of Reparations project with vice mayor of Salvador, Célia Sacramento (center)

“It is neither the secretary nor the mayor who will decide [the procedures]. It is the counsel, in active participation. Reparation is something seen with a certain reservation, but what one does when faced (with inequality) is repair. Nothing here is done in a dictatorial form, all this will be discussed further with the black community, civil society and the servers who will be appreciated,” said Ivete.  As with the criteria, the deadline for the measure to be put into effect had not yet been defined.

The decree for the creation of the working group to plan the execution of the project was signed by Mayor ACM Neto on January 9th of this year at a ceremony held in the Rio Vermelho (2). On that occasion, it was decided that the secretariats of Reparation and Development, Tourism and Culture, together with the Fundação Gregório de Matos (Gregorio de Matos Foundation), will construct the project entitled “Programa de Celebração dos Eventos em Comemoração as Conquistas dos Afrodescentes (Celebration Program of Events in Commemoration of the Achievements African descendants).”

As reported previously here, 2013 saw the recognition of ten years of the existence of the law implementing the teaching of the “History of Africa and Afro-Brazilian Culture” (Law 10.639/2003) in the curriculum of public schools; and 125th year anniversary of the signing of the Lei Áurea (Golden Law) abolishing slavery in Brazil in 1888 and 95 years Mestre (Master) Didi (3), besides the beginning of the “International Decade of African Descendant Peoples” at the Organizations of the United Nations (UN).


1. The Prêmio CLAUDIA (Claudia Award) is the most celebrated female award in Latin America – had its first edition in 1996 with the goal of discovering and highlighting competent, talented, innovative women committed to building a better Brazil.

 2. A middle-upper class neighborhood in Salvador, Bahia

3. Deoscóredes Maximiliano dos Santos (born on Salvador, December 2, 1917), more popularly known as Mestre Didi, is an Afro-Brazilian writer, artist and priest that is a highly revered representative of Afro-Brazilian culture. Between 1946 and 1989, he several published books on Afro-Brazilian culture. In 1966, he traveled to West Africa and conducted comparative research between Brazil and Africa commissioned by UNESCO. Between the 1960s and 1990s, he was a participating member of an of institutes of African and Afro-Brazilian studies and a counselor at conferences on this theme, in Brazil and abroad. In 1980, he founded and chaired the Sociedade Cultural e Religiosa Ilê Asipá (Ilê Asipá Cultural and Religious Society) of ancestral worship of Egun in Salvador, Bahia. He is coordinator of the Religious Council of the National Institute of Afro-Brazilian Culture and Tradition, which represents the country at the International Conference of the Tradition of Orixás and Culture. Source: Itaú Cultural

 Source: Prêmio CLAUDIA, Bahia JáNotícia LivreG1

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

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