Brazil: Dia da Consciência Negra / The Day of Black Awareness

The Day of Black Awareness (“Dia da Consciência Negra” in Portuguese) is celebrated annually on November 20 in Brazil as a day on which to reflect upon the injustices of slavery (from the first transport of African slaves to Brazil in 1594) and to celebrate the contributions to society and to the nation by Brazilian citizens of African descent. It takes place during the Week of Black Awareness.

 

The day is marked on the anniversary of the death of Zumbi dos Palmares (1655-1695), the last leader of the Quilombo dos Palmares, a fugitive community of escaped slaves and others in colonial Brazil that developed from 1605 until its suppression in 1694. It was located in what is today the Brazilian state of Alagoas.  The day has special meaning for those Brazilians of African descent who honor Zumbi as a hero, freedom fighter, and symbol of freedom. Zumbi has become a hero of the twentieth-century Afro-Brazilian political movement, as well as a national hero in Brazil.

 

On November 20, members of the organization “Black Movement” (the largest of its kind in the country) organize educational and fun events involving mainly children of African descent. Their focus during these events is to dissolve the perception of Africans’ inferiority in society. Other “hot topics” in the black community during the Day of Black Awareness are the assimilation of African-Brazilian laborers with Caucasian-Brazilian and other laborers, ethnic identity, and black pride.

 

Black Awareness Day has been celebrated since the 1960s and has only amplified its events in the last few years.  The 13th of May is now a holiday (Brazilian Abolishment of Slavery).

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