Celebrated in Brazil This Monday, the 20th, Black Awareness Day emerged in 1971, but was only approved by the Senate in 2003, and established as a commemorative date in 2011, in addition to being established as a holiday in only six Brazilian states: Alagoas (AL ), Amazonas (AM), Amapá (AP), Mato Grosso (MT), Rio de Janeiro (RJ) and São Paulo (SP).
How did Black Awareness Day come about?
The date came about through the initiative of a group of young black people in Porto Alegre, a municipality in Rio Grande do Sul, who formed the Palmares Group, an association that carried out studies on black history and culture, as explained by Agência Senado.
In one of the group’s meetings, members came to the conclusion that November 20th, the date that marks the death of Zumbi dos Palmaresshould be chosen to highlight the leading role in the struggle of former slaves for freedom, as well as bring visibility to racial issues.
One of the reasons for the decision is May 13th, the date on which the abolition of slavery in Brazil is celebrated, established by the creation of the Lei Áurea signed by Princess Isabel in 1888. This is because the date, which was used as a symbol of the struggle of black people, it brought the idea that freedom was not conquered, but rather, ceded to black people.
Therefore, the new proposal was designed to value the struggle, history and culture of Afro-Brazilians, highlighting one of the most important names in the struggle against slavery: Zumbi dos Palmares.
Who was Zumbi dos Palmares?
Slavery existed in Brazil for more than 300 years, as it is believed that the first black people arrived in the country around 1538, while abolition was only signed in 1888.
Thus, one of the means of refuge for black people was quilombos, spaces of resistance in which black people took shelter after fleeing. These communities that emerged during the colonial period were commonly located in difficult to access places and had a leader — Zombie was one of them!
As revealed by the Brasil Escola portal, journalist Décio Freitas revealed the little information that is known about the past of Zombiesince it is believed that he was born free in 1655, in Alagoas, in the Palmares quilombo, the largest quilombo in Brazil.
Still, at the age of 7, he was captured and handed over to a priest. Enslaved, he learned the Portuguese language and was taught to follow the Catholic religion. The report also says that at the age of 15, he ran away and returned to live in the quilombo.
Zombie He became the last leader of the Palmares quilombo, fighting bravely for the freedom of the black people until 1695, when his hiding place was exposed and he ended up being killed by a bandeirante (a group that fought against escaped slaves) on November 20 of that year.