40 years of the Movimento Negro Unificado! On July 7, 1978, various black organizations came together to form Brazil’s modern day black rights movement

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Note from BW of Brazil: 40 years! Four decades of struggle, marches, lectures, speeches, rallies and organizing. 40 years is a long time in some ways but also a short time when we consider that other organizations that are thought to represent the aspirations of the black masses have been around much longer. In Brazil, 40 years of the existence of such an entity is reason to celebrate. The very fact that organizations falling under the umbrella of the Movimento Negro Unificado, or Unified Black Movement, continue to fight in a system that denied and in many ways still today, continues to deny the very existence of racial discrimination. The movement emerged in the middle of a brutal military dictatorship (1964-1985) in which tens of thousands were beaten, tortured and disappeared opposing the regime.

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“The blacks are in the streets”. Versus magazine covered the formation of the MNU in 1978. Abdias Do Nascimento’s ‘O Genocídio Do Negro Brasileiro’ detailed the government’s attempt to block Nascimento from exposing Brazilian racism at the 1977 FESTAC festival in Nigeria

But in was in this period in which besides the denial of rights of the Brazilian citizen, black Brazilians were tired of being ignored when they protested against a very stifling form of racism that sought to simultaneously subject millions of black people to racist practices while telling its black population and the rest of world that Brazil had achieved a ‘racial democracy’ where so many other societies had failed. So committed to protecting this myth, Brazil’s government attempted to block the presentation of the most vocal critic of the ‘racial democracy’ myth, activist Abdias do Nascimento, when he intended to expose the real treatment of black Brazilians at the 1977 FESTAC festival in Lagos, Nigeria. Nascimento’s book O Genocídio Do Negro Brasileiro (The Genocide of the Black Brazilian Negro) tells of Abdias’s persecution by the military regime when the foreign ministry tried to silence him in Lagos, Nigeria, at this 2nd Festival of Black Arts and Culture. The Brazilian government was able to veto his name and his invitation to be a speaker was canceled. The University of Ife, where Abdias taught as a visiting professor, published this work as a mimeograph. Abdias registered as an observer and distributed it personally to the delegates. He had the support of African intellectuals and of the diaspora and made his denunciation of Brazilian racism. The Nigerian press published the text.

In the 1970s, even before the official beginning of the Movimento Negro, social and artistic movements such as the Black Rio and Black São Paulo, were the target of spies, as was demonstrated by a nine page document presented by the Centro de Informação e Segurança da Aeronáutica (CISA-RJ or Center for Information and Security of Aeronautics of Rio de Janeiro), on October 20, 1976. With the suggestive title “Racismo negro no Brasil” (black racism in Brazil), the folder reflects the preoccupation of governmental security organs led by General Ernesto Geisel with the infiltration of subversive organizations in popular movements. The agents of the dictatorship followed every step, recorded every word by militants, sympathizers and intellectuals in favor of inclusion of blacks in Brazilian society (see note one).

To this day, there remain strong elements in the world of media, government and industry that wish to stifle an open discussion of racism in Brazilian society and thus stagnate any advances on black demands for equality and thus maintaining blacks in “the place” Brazil has always wished to keep them. And while it can be argued that, in many ways, Afro-Brazilian advances remain decades behind some of the accomplishments of America’s Civil Rights/Black Power era, perhaps this is more revealing of the veracity of Brazilian-styled racism rather than the effects of the Movimento Negro. 40 years strong and still on the move! 

1978

Seminar marks 40th anniversary celebration of the Unified Black Movement

by Sérgio Silva

A symbol of resistance, the MNU celebrates its anniversary with debate on the legacy left by the organization for the history of the fight against racism in Brazil

SEMINÁRIO: 40 ANOS MNU (MOVIMENTO NEGRO UNIFICADO)
Neusa Maria Pereira, member and founder of the MNU | Photo: Sérgio Silva / Ponte Jornalismo

On Monday (6/18), the MNU (Movimento Negro Unificado/Unified Black Movement) held a seminar in honor of its 40th anniversary. The meeting was attended by members active since the founding of the movement, held on July 7, 1978 on the steps of the Municipal Theater in São Paulo, and militants of the new generation organized within the movimento negro itself in general. The meeting took place in the APEOESP (Union of Teachers of the State of São Paulo) Auditorium, in Praça da República, downtown São Paulo.

SEMINÁRIO: 40 ANOS MNU (MOVIMENTO NEGRO UNIFICADO)
Milton Barbosa, founding member of MNU | Photo: Sérgio Silva / Ponte Jornalismo

The MNU emerged during military dictatorship with the goal of becoming a referencial landmark in the fight against racial discrimination in the country. Today it’s present in 12 states of the nation. For many of the members, the MNU played an important role in making Brazil recognize itself as racist.

SEMINÁRIO: 40 ANOS MNU (MOVIMENTO NEGRO UNIFICADO)
Regina Lúcia: “Racism in Brazil is a perversity” | Photo by Sérgio Silva / Ponte Jornalismo

Among the themes proposed during the event were denunciations of the genocídio da população negra (genocide of the black population) in the peripheries, mass incarceration, which affects mostly the black population, and the importance of the militancy of black feminism. Celebrating the gathering of generations, the tables were attended by historical militants such as Milton Barbosa, Milton, Neusa Maria Pereira and Regina Lúcia, and representatives of the new generation, such as Katiara Oliveira and Douglas Belchior.

SEMINÁRIO: 40 ANOS MNU (MOVIMENTO NEGRO UNIFICADO)
Katiara Oliveira, of Kilombagem | Photo: Sérgio Silva / Ponte Jornalismo

In addition, even by the presence of some educators, there was room to discuss the importance of enforcing Law 10.639, which provides for the compulsory teaching of Afro-Brazilian History and Culture in educational institutions, in force since 2003. The claim of many teachers is that, although the law exists, it is still far from being applied correctly and uniformly across all institutions in the country.

SEMINÁRIO: 40 ANOS MNU (MOVIMENTO NEGRO UNIFICADO)
Douglas Belchior, professor and candidate for federal deputy for the PSOL | Photo: Sérgio Silva / Ponte Jornalismo

At the close of the meeting, a moment to balance things out and point out ways to be followed. The table “Conquistas e Perspectivas do MNU” (Achievements and Perspectives of the MNU) had the participation of Milton Barbosa, José Adão Oliveira, Regina Lucia dos Santos and Luka França, all members of the entity.

SEMINÁRIO: 40 ANOS MNU (MOVIMENTO NEGRO UNIFICADO)
Juninho, militant of the movement | Photo: Sérgio Silva / Ponte Jornalismo

SEMINÁRIO: 40 ANOS MNU (MOVIMENTO NEGRO UNIFICADO)

SEMINÁRIO: 40 ANOS MNU (MOVIMENTO NEGRO UNIFICADO)
Neusa Maria Pereira, one of the founders of MNU | Photo: Sérgio Silva / Ponte Jornalismo

March recalls the 40th anniversary of the founding of the  Movimento Negro Unificado (MNU)

By Pedro Borges

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Image from the act releasing the MNU in 1978

Celebration takes place in São Paulo and repeats the march made by the founders of the organization, on July 7, 1978, even during the military regime

On July 7, Saturday, the Unified Black Movement (MNU) organized a march in honor of the organization’s 40th anniversary, created on the same date in 1978, when Brazil was living under military rule.

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Milton Barbosa, a MNU founding member during the historic release of the movement in 1978

The itinerary will repeat the original path, made by the activists in the creation of the entity, with the concentration at the intersection of Avenida Consolação and Rua Visconde de Ouro Preto, with the course of the act destined for Praça Ramos de Azevedo, in front of the Municipal Theater, where the organization was launched.

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Hamilton Cardoso, a leader of the MNU in 1978

Luka Franca, member of the MNU, believes it is essential to remember the trajectory and achievements of the MNU to plan the future actions of the antiracist struggle in Brazil.

“40 years later we will re-do one of the paths that, in 1978, the founders of our movement did to reaffirm their commitment to fight racism, denounce the genocide of our population and mass incarceration.”

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During the act the 8 principles of the foundation of the entity will be presented, which are: For an independent black movement; For the end of police violence and against the criminality “industry”; Ending racial discrimination on the job; For an education directed to the interests of the povo negro (black people) and of all the oppressed; For the end of the political manipulation of cultura negra (black culture); Against the sexual, social and economic exploitation of the black woman; For the end of racial violence in the media; For the international solidarity for the struggle of all the oppressed.

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For Luka Franca, the foundations of the MNU make it possible to imagine a more just society.

“It is to show actively that throughout our history we have always reaffirmed MNU’s principles of combativeness to construct a society without prisons, without racism and without the deaths of our youth.”

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MNU – The Fights and Flags are still the same as in 1978

On June 18, 1978, appearing on the front steps of the Teatro Municipal of São Paulo, on July 7th, the Unified Black Movement that at that moment summoned black men and black women and the general population to React to Racial Violence to which we were subjected. There was a silence at that moment because of the period of the Military Dictatorship, even so blacks who supported the spirit of Zumbi dos Palmares, Steve Biko, Malcom X, Nzinga, Dandara, Acotirene, Luiza Mahin and many other leaders of the Black People in Brazil and around the world, were not silenced on July 7, 1978.

They took to the streets and echoed their cry denouncing the torture and murder of Robson Silveira da Luz in the 44th Guaianazes Police District, the racial discrimination suffered by young blacks at the Clube de Regatas Tiete sports club.

Today, 40 years later, it is important to say that on this date of celebration of the Anniversary of the Unified Black Movement in the Young Militants of this organization we have nothing to celebrate because blacks from the north to the south are still the preferential target country of the ongoing process of genocide, they are everyday brutally exterminated, whether by the police bullet or by the bankruptcy of the Democratic State of the Law.

There is in this moment, not only in the Movimento Negro, but throughout the Social Movement, a silence all because of half a dozen crumbs that were dropped from the Casa Grande (Big House/slave master’s house), because of this, in the Black Youth of the Unified Black Movement, we have come to the Public to say that we are heirs and grandchildren of Zumbi and Vovó would be sad if we surrendered without fighting (paraphrasing the letter of the Grandchildren of Zumbi sent right from Carandiru in 78 to the act of the Unified Black Movement on the stairs of the Municipal Theater) we continue to say that we carry a civilizational legacy that does not allow us to be silent in the face of the conjuncture because our struggle is beyond the conjuncture, because there are quilombolas having their territories invaded, to militants of our organization being threatened with death for acting in a case against racism in Rio Grande do Sul, at the same time, we have a movement and questioning in the STF (Supreme Court), by the DEM (party), of the racial quotas, not to mention the movement for decree 4887 that ratifies the OIT 167, giving the right to titling of the Quilombola Lands, not counting the ongoing genocide process that is directed at us daily, as Luíza Bairros (“We Carry the Mark”) said, and by carrying the mark it is also that we rise to continue a cry that is still necessary every day.

Zumbi will forgive us, but this year it’s João Cândido and the Quilombolas

A Day of Struggle in the Eternal Abode of the Ancestors

We are not content, nor will we applaud our so-called allies of the esquerda branca (white left) and the black militants who continue to compromise with this process of Human Rights Violation, which is guaranteed by our charter, the federal constitution; so we say and reaffirm the commitments and all Flags of struggles established on the basis of much blood for our black people in the course of history and ratified by the Unified Black Movement in 78. So it is necessary to say that there is no Pact For Life! Enough with a pact! For the pact that is shown to us every day is the pact that the Casa Grande does to imprison us in mass, the pact of silence that is perpetuated in social movements under a discourse of We are advancing, the pact that the state does to silence our deaths, the constant pact of violation against us who bear the mark.

The pact we will now make is the pact of Continuity to the Reaction to the Racial Violence to which we are submitted.

I no longer want, as a young militant of the Black Movement of Cachoeira (Clicio) put so well, to have to bury Bruno, Carlinhos, Warley and many other brothers of the fifth series, who grew up next to me and today they are no longer but the time has come to see everyone together getting older and being able to live life!

That is why we say and reaffirm

  • React to Racial Violence
  • Long Life to the Unified Black Movement as long as we are in a state where Genocide continues.

React or Be Killed, React or Be Killed.

Ailton Pinheiro

MNU- Unified Black Movement BA

Source: Alma Preta, Ponte

Note

  1. Taken from the article, “Intelligence services monitored black movements“, by José Carlos Vieira and Carlos Alexandre
About Marques Travae 2900 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

2 Comments

  1. Yes! I really dig this article cover of the 1978 unification black movement. Hopefully millions more will get involved and have this movement continue.

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