July 25th: Brazil’s National Day of Teresa de Benguela and the black woman – A brief history of the warrior negra for whom the day was named

Tereza de Benguela


Note from BW of Brazil: The recognition and recovery of the history of the black Brazilian has been a long, hard struggle over the period of a maximum of nearly five centuries but at least since 1888 when slavery was abolished in the country. Since the 1970s, Afro-Brazilian activists fought for the establishment of November 20th as the National Day of Black Consciousness in recognition of the legendary quilombo (runaway slave/maroon society) leader of mythological proportions, Zumbi dos Palmares. But Zumbi was only one of countless, nameless or unrecognized heroes in the struggle for black equality in Brazil. Many of these warriors were in fact women. Tomorrow, July 25th, we celebrate the Afro-Latin American and Caribbean Women’s Day. Just last month, the day was officially established by law in honor of one of black Brazil’s “she-roes”, Tereza de Benguela. Below is brief report on the official sanctioning of the day and the warrior negra for whom the day was named after. 

House Passes Dia Nacional de Tereza de Benguela e da Mulher Negra (National Day of Teresa of Benguela and of Black Women)

Courtesy of Câmara Notícias

The Comissão de Constituição e Justiça e de Cidadania (CCJ or Committee of Constitution and Justice and Citizenship) of the Câmara dos Deputados (House of Deputies) approved on Tuesday (April 1st) in conclusive character, Senate bill (PL 5746/09) that establishes the date of July 25 as the National Day of Tereza Benguela and Black Women. The proposal then goes for presidential approval.

Evandro Milhomen presented a favorable opinion to the project.
Evandro Milhomen presented a favorable opinion to the project.

The rapporteur of the project, Deputy Evandro Milhomen (PCdoB-AP) highlights that Tereza Benguela was a quilombo (maroon society) leader was one who lived in the state of Mato Grosso. “Under her leadership, the Quilombo Quariterê resisted slavery for two decades, and survived until 1770,” he maintained.

Latin America

The author of the text, the ex-Senator Serys Slhessarenko, highlights that in the whole of Latin America, only Brazil is not yet celebrating the International Day of Black Women on July 25. “It’s necessary to create a symbol for the black woman, such as exists in the myth of Zumbi dos Palmares. Women lack of black women heroines who strengthen the pride of their race and their history,” he argues.

The commission also approved the PL 5371/09 by Deputy Fátima Pelaes (PMDB-AP) in joint analysis, which includes on the national commemorative calendar, the 25th of July as Latin American and Caribbean Black Women’s Day.

National Day of Teresa de Benguela and Black Women

Tereza de Benguela is the name of Federal Law 12.987 of June 2, 2014

Courtesy of UNEGRO Rio de Janeiro

Tereza Benguela was a quilombo leader who lived in the eighteenth century. The wife of José Piolho who led the Quilombo do Piolho or Quariterê, on the outskirts of Vila Bela da Santíssima Trindade, in the state of Mato Grosso. When her husband died, Tereza took command of that quilombo, showing herself as an even more relentless and tenacious leader, Benguela commanded the political, economic and administrative structure of the quilombo, maintaining a defense system with weapons exchanged with white men or retrieved from nearby villages.

The iron objects used against the black community who took refuge there were transformed into a working instruments, as they dominated the use of the forge.

The Quilombo Quariterê besides the parliament and an advisor to the queen, developed cotton farming and possessed weaving looms where fabrics were manufactured that were marketed outside the quilombos, as well as surplus food. She was an emboldened warrior and commanded the Quilombo Quariterê in Mato Grosso. It is unclear whether she was African or Brazilian. It is said that it was she who led an uprising of blacks and Indians, settling near the city of Cuiabá, not far from the border of Bolivia today. For decades, Teresa led the Quilombo, which survived until 1770, in the XVIII century.

Enacted: Law No. 12.987, of June 2, 2014

Provides for the creation of the Dia Nacional de Tereza de Benguela e da Mulher Negra (National Day of Teresa of Benguela and Black Women).


I make it known that the Congress decrees and I sanction the following Law: …

Art. 1o – It is instituted the National Day of Teresa of Benguela and Black Women, to be celebrated annually on July 25.

Art. 2o – This Law shall enter into force on the date of its publication. Brasilia, June 2, 2014; 193rd of the Independence and 126th of the Republic.

Source: UNEGRO Rio de JaneiroCâmara

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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