São Paulo will have five new statues of black personalities
Writer Carolina de Jesus will be one of those honored
By Marques Travae with information courtesy of Agencia Brasil and G1
Last month this blog presented the news of a statue dedicated to the Bandeirante known as Borba Gato being set ablaze by activists in the city of São Paulo. The incident once again reignited past debates about how historical figures should be remembered as well as the lack of black representation in the monuments found across Brazil. Less than a month after that incident, the City of São Paulo announced plans it would erect five statues that recognize and pay tribute to black personalities who were born or made history in the capital. The creation of the statues is scheduled to begin next month and should be completed within six months.
According to a study conducted between November 2020 to November 2021, the Pólis Institute counted 367 monuments found throughout the city of São Paulo. It found that only 24 of the 200 people depicted can be identified as women, while 169 were statues of men. Only five of 169 presenting men are black, and of those presenting women, only one of them depicts a black woman. That statue is the “Mãe Preta,” or “Black Mother,” monument, which is located downtown in the region of Paissandu.
For Cássia Caneco, a researcher at the Pólis Institute, the city has many stories that can be shared with the public. “More important than taking down or putting up [statues] is the debate that opens up. Looking at yourself and seeing yourself represented in a multiple and diverse way can somehow reconstitute the dignity of these people who are massacred on a daily basis.”
Writer Carolina Maria de Jesus, five-time triple jump champion Adhemar Ferreira da Silva, singers and composers Itamar Assumpção and Geraldo Filme and sambista and activist Madrinha Eunice will be honored with five statues that will be erected in the city of São Paulo.
According to the City Hall, black personalities with strong ties to the city were chosen. The announcement occurred on Tuesday (17) during the Heritage Appreciation Week, which runs until Friday (20).
The statue of Carolina Maria de Jesus (1914 – 1977), author of the classic Quarto de Despejo, will be erected in the Parelheiros Linear Park, where the author lived for many years. The statue of Geraldo Filme will be in Barra Funda, near the old Largo da Banana district, a place that, according to the city hall, was “approved by people from the movement and by Geraldo’s own family”.
De Jesus is one of the most widely read authors from Brazil. Her debut work, Quarto de Despejo, became a bestseller when it was published in 1960. Available in 16 languages, the author’s books have sold over 3 million copies. Today, she is revered by black Brazilian writers, many of whom are inspired by her while others have analyzed her life and works.
Geraldo Filme (1928 – 1995) was considered a pioneer São Paulo samba. The artist and songwriter fought to put São Paulo on the map of Brazil’s most popular rhythm after becoming dissatisfied with the dominance of Rio de Janeiro’s samba in the national media.
The location of the statue of Adhemar Ferreira da Silva (1927 – 2001) is not yet known, but it is likely to be in the central area of Avenida Braz Leme, in the neighborhood of Casa Verde, where the five-time triple jump champion always lived and where athletics clubs were created as a result of his success.
Da Silva is the only Brazilian athlete to win two consecutive gold medals in the world’s most important track and field event, the triple jump, a feat he accomplished in Helsinki 1952 and Melbourne 1956. He is a member of the International Olympic Committee’s Hall of Fame and many Brazilian Olympic athletes see him as the doyen.
The statue of Madrinha Eunice (1909 – 1995), founder of the first samba school in São Paulo, Lavapés, will be located at the Praça da Liberdade. In the 1930s, Deolinda Madre, also known as madrinha, or godmother Eunice started Lavapés. The school was founded in the downtown district of Glicério and in the 1950s and 1960s, the school won the Special Group competition seven times.
“A woman who comes from the interior of São Paulo, from Piracicaba, black, and in 1937, during the Estado Novo (New State) of Getúlio Vargas, she founded the samba school here in this region,” remembered sociologist T. Kaçula, in an interview.
The location of the work in honor of Itamar Assumpção (1949 – 2003) has not yet been defined. “The city hall is still in contact with the artist’s family to indicate possible places for the tribute, but locations like Casa de Cultura da Penha, where Itamar recorded the Bicho de 7 Cabeças album trilogy, in 1993, and that also has a studio in his honor and in the neighborhood where he was born; and the Praça Benedito Calixto, an important cultural space in the city near the old Lira Paulistana theater, are already being considered,” says a note released by the Municipal Department of Culture.
The musician, singer and songwriter is one of the most well-known members of the “Vanguarda Paulista” movement. His songs have been covered by the likes of popular Brazilian musicians such as Rita Lee, Cássia Eller, Tom Zé, Ney Matogrosso, and Zélia Duncan. Assumpção was from in Tietê, a city located in the interior of São Paulo state.
Last year, the City Hall inaugurated a statue at Clóvis Bevilácqua Square in honor of Joaquim Pinto de Oliveira (1721-1811), a slave who was an artisan and architect and became known by the nickname Thebes.
Source: Agencia Brasil