Note from BW of Brazil: Every year, on May 13th, Afro-Brazilian activists, writers and leaders reflect on what this date actually means. On May 13th, in 1888, Princesa Isabel signed what called the Lei Áurea, or the Golden Law, officially putting an end to about 350 years of the enslavement of Brazil’s black population. But the question every year is the same: Is this a date that should even be celebrated. For several decades now, Afro-Brazilian activists have placed more emphasis on celebrating November 20th, the Day of Black Consciousness and the day in which Zumbi dos Palmares, the 17th century quilombo leader, was murdered in 1695. The issue at hand is that in 2018, 130 years after the signing of that document, Afro-Brazilians remain on the margins of the society in many ways which gives to credence to the interpretation of there being an incomplete abolition in 1888. A new documentary addresses this issue and puts that historical event in a new perspective.
“A Última Abolição” (‘The Last Abolition’) shows the situation of blacks in modern day Brazilian society
Documentary debuts this Thursday in theaters
By Gabriel Sobreira
The documentary A Última Abolição (The Last Abolition), which shows the abolitionist movements, their unfoldings and the situation of blacks in present-day Brazilian society, opens this Thursday in the cinemas. “There is a huge need to talk about slave resistance in the period and the nuances of abolitionism in Brazil because, although they are themes that are much studied in the academy, they are little explored in our audiovisual,” emphasizes director Alice Gomes, who also wrote the script.
Brazil was the last country to abolish slavery in 1888 and led the list of countries that received the most enslaved African populations (approximately 5.8 million in 350 years). “I think the main challenge of this film is to show a more complex view of history than we have learned in school. Knowing our past and its nuances is essential both for understanding the present and for helping to outline strategies and plans to improve the future,” says the director.
The film, with the artistic supervision of Jeferson De, recorded in the cities of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Salvador and is entirely based on testimonies of scholars such as historians João José Reis, Ana Flávia Magalhães and Giovana Xavier, sociologists and leaders of the movimento de consciência negra (black consciousness movement). “We have to see our society as it really is: excluding, unequal and falsely cordial. I want to value the constant struggle of the black people in Brazil, whether for freedom, or in the past, or for rights and equality, as in the present,” says Alice.
Journalist Luciana Barreto is responsible for interviews and the pre-script of the documentary, which was started two years ago. “It was terrible to digest the atrocities that were committed against those enslaved in this country and to think about how neglected this history is. And even worse, having to realize all the time how much 350 years of slavery are present in our current history of daily violations of rights that affect the população preta e parda (black and brown population) to this day,” says Luciana. Our concern has always been to broaden the voice of black intellectuals and professionals who struggle to value the importance of blacks in history, fighting racial prejudice and reducing social injustices. As Sueli Carneiro says in a beautiful testimony for the film, “I believe that a new and more equal social contract between whites and blacks is possible, concludes the director.
Source: O Dia