X lives! City councilors in city hall of Porto Alegre argue because of councilwoman’s wearing of a Malcolm X T-shirt



Note from BW of Brazil: A full 52 years after his death, human rights icon Malcolm X is alive and well in the hearts thousands, if not millions of Afro-Brazilians. A few months ago, this blog featured a story in which various famous rappers spoke of the influence of Malcolm X in their lives, lyrics and militancy. Needless, the image of the former Nation of Islam spokesman is still a powerful one that conjures up different things for different people. Over the years, countless Afro-Brazilians I know personally have pointed to the words of the slain African-American leader in the awakening their consciousness of what it means to be black in an anti-black world. Due to Malcolm’s visionary view of the world and the place of African descendants in it, his name has appeared in numerous previous articles on this blog. And judging from the commotion that the wearing of a simple t-shirt bearing his image, we can rest assured that Malcolm’s memory will continue to live on throughout the African Diaspora. 

City councilors argue in city hall of Porto Alegre because of Malcolm X T-shirt

Councilwoman made inaugural speech in the pulpit wearing a t-shirt of the activist Malcolm X 

A discussion between councilors paralyzed the plenary session of Wednesday (19), in the City Council of Porto Alegre, for an unusual reason. PSOL (political party) Alternate Councilor Karen Santos had just spoken in the pulpit in her inaugural address when councilor Valter Nagelstein (PMDB), who presided over the session, drew her attention for wearing a T-shirt of US activist Malcolm X. Nagelstein complained that “she was not complying with the House Rules”, which required “sportswear” for both men and women.

“There is still democracy here … democracy that imposes apparel on the councilors. If equality is true, I believe it, it is true for all of us. If you wear a T-shirt, Councilwoman Sofia [Cavedon, PT], for women, it’s also worth the T-shirt for men,” he said into the microphone.

Alternate Councilor Karen Santos’s t-shirt of Malcolm was the cause of an argument at government headquarters of Porto Alegre (Photo: Elson Sempé Pedroso/CMPA)

The comment of the PMDB politician generated reaction from the bench of the PSOL. Karen, who took a three-day term due to a health leave of councilwoman Fernanda Melchionna, complained that the councilman was spending time in plenary to “show up.” “It’s really sad to see what happens inside the House of Representatives. It is not to place the people inside. Don’t place women, don’t place workers, don’t place black youth,” she complained.

In a video of the event, Councilwoman Karen Santos explains the commotion over her Malcolm X t-shirt

“It was an ideological attack because it was a Malcolm X shirt,” the councilwoman said by telephone to  South21. Karen says she received support from other councilors, who noted that not all male parliamentarians were dressed according to the regiment and didn’t receive Nagelstein’s attention. “You go to such a space imagining that you are going to discuss political projects and are embarrassed by the president of the house for your clothes. It was an attempt to corrode, a disrespectful way of welcoming the House.”

A colleague of the councilwoman, Professor Alex Fraga used his grandstand time to criticize Nagelstein’s stance. According to Alex, there is no question in the House regiment about women’s attire. “So your remark about the dress of councilwoman Karen is utterly dispensable,” he said, addressing the Table and the parliamentarian. “You use the term democracy in a completely wrong way. The shirt that the councilwoman was wearing on the rostrum refers to a historical person of great importance in the fight for human rights, in the struggle for the valorization of life and equality in every way, which further disqualifies your position.”

In 2014, Nagelstein had already complained about a t-shirt worn by councilwoman Fernanda Melchionna in pulpit, which bore the phrase “Viva a Resistência Palestina” (Long Live Palestinian Resistance). At the time, the councilman’s argument was the same, that the dress of the councilwoman did not meet the requirements of Parliament. In 2009, Fernanda also faced in the same tribune a bill of the then councilman (Nelcir Tessaro of the PSD) who wanted to create rules for the clothes of city councilors. Tessaro withdrew the proposal after the repercussion.

Source: Sul 21


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


  1. First of all, the Psol political group is racist.
    Second: Malcon X represented black people only, don’t include others.
    Third: Muslims has nothing to do with the struggle of black ppl.
    Besides what they did to native africans, genocides and else.

  2. One more thing: you’re not supposed to show up dressed like that in that type of place. period.

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