R. I. P. Abdias Nascimento (1914-2011)

 

Afro-Brazilian civil rights activist, scholar, artist, and politician Abdias Nascimento (1914-2011) passed away this morning. He was 97 years old.

Abdias was a pioneer in the fight against racism in Brazil and all over the diaspora.

In the 1930s, he was one of the founders of Frente Negra (Black Front) the first and only Brazilian Black political party which was banned in 1937 by Getúlio Vargas’ dictatorship of Estado Novo.

Elected deputy in the Brazilian National Congress in the 1980s, Abdias was the first Afro-Brazilian to use the congress as an instrument to claim Afro-Brazilian civil rights. He was also a pioneer in defending the rupture of diplomatic relations between Brazil and South Africa during the Apartheid.

As a deputy, and later as a Senator, he presented a number of projects of law defending affirmative actions and reparations for Afro-Brazilians. He was also the author of numerous projects of law to make the memory of slavery and the memory of Afro-Brazilian historical actors visible in the public arena.

During the Brazilian military dictatorship (1964-1985), Abdias moved to the United States, where he became a university professor.

In 1975, he showed his artworks at the Howard University Art Gallery. Recently, Abdias was interviewed by Henry Louis Gates in the episode on Brazil of the television series Black in Latin America. Along with activist MV Bill, he was the only to provide a lucid evaluation of Brazilian racial relations.

May his soul rest in peace and his fight against racism, and racial and social justice remain alive.