We Remember: Brazilian Activist and Scholar Abdias do Nascimento

Abdias do Nascimento, brazil's activist scholar has died at 97 years old.

There are so many different sides to the man that Brazil celebrated for so long as its leading activist for democracy…for the African population. For many years, he tried to tell the truth that the country has shrouded behind an image of democracy, sort of like another country we’ve heard of.  But he took the time to show the many divisions in the country. 

Abdias do Nascimento died at the age of 97, from complications with diabetes, according to the New York Times.   The  nonagenarian spent his entire life trying to show the distinct differences in the classes of his country were divided by race.  Nearly all of the rich people in Brazil are white and all the poor black.  This means being disenfranchised from numerous opportunities because of race and appearing to be on a level playing field…like some other country we know.

Nascimento has been vocal for more than 60 years and up until the time of his death about the inequities of his country.  This Spring, the activist even sat with Henry Louis Gates Jr., who is now known for the genealogy tracking he’s done for celebrities on his show “African American Lives” on PBS, for his last interview.  During the interview Gates asked if Brazil had ever truly had a racial democracy?  He answered saying:

“The black people feel in their flesh the lie which is racial democracy in this country,” Mr. Nascimento said. “You just have to look at a black family. Where do they live? The black children, how are they educated? You’ll see that it’s all a lie. You must understand that I’m saying this with profound hatred, profound bitterness at the way black people are treated in Brazil.”

And this has been his position for most of his life. Read more about this dynamic man who the world has lost.  His work and his voice will live forever.  Read more here.

2 thoughts on “We Remember: Brazilian Activist and Scholar Abdias do Nascimento”

  1. I remember going to a New World Diaspora convention in Rio in 1978 and do Nascimiento was in attendance. I speak fluent Portuguese and was able to get a bird’s eye view of the racial politics going on behind the scene. I served as an interpreter for the late Negro Digest editor Hoyt Fuller and African-American Virgin Island-based dermatologist Dr. Fletcher Robinson. We went up into the favelas (Santa Maria) near Leblon and spoke to the REAL Brazilians who the government wanted us to avoid. I recommend a book by Maria Carolina de Jesus called “Child of the Dark” or “Um Quarto de Despejo” (The Room of Despair) in Portuguese. Brazilian Gov’t. banned the book because it told the truth. I’m so sorry that do Nascimiento didn’t support our conference, but I guess he had his reason to which I’m not privy. Rest in Peace, Fanteeking

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