Note from BW of Brazil: Last week, on January 25th, one of the most important cities in Brazil, São Paulo, commemorated its 465th anniversary. Having traveled throughout São Paulo by bus, subway and car, I have become quite familiar with various ruas (streets), avenidas (avenues), squares, monuments, etc. Mind you, I’m not a fan of the manner in which the city’s streets were constructed. I swear, if you happen to pass an exit on a freeway in SP, you could straight up end up on the other side of town as it seems that is often difficult and near impossible to turn around and go back in the opposite direction. But being an enthusiast of Brazil’s black history, the recent anniversary of the city made reflect on some of the streets in not only SP, but throughout the country, that I’ve recognized take the names of some illustrious figures in the nation’s history, some of whom, most people who frequent these avenues and streets everyday would never know were black. Below, get to know some of the names of some of these men and remember this the next time you’re in not only São Paulo, but also Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Salvador and other cities.
São Paulo celebrates anniversary: 9 streets and avenues of the city with names of black people that you may not know
São Paulo celebrates its birthday: 9 streets and avenues of the city with names of black people that you may not know
“When you see a black street sign, stop and get to know a little more about the figure that is there. You will better understand the relevance and impact that African people and culture have had on Brazilian society.”
(Coletivo João Silva)
The Coletivo João Silva (João Silva collective), is responsible for the project Consciência Negra Na Rua (Black Consciousness in the Street), which honors those streets and avenues with stickers that tell the stories of these black personalities. Check it out!
1- Rua André Rebouças
A graduate in civil engineering, André Rebouças served in the Paraguayan War and designed the railroad that connects Curitiba to the Porto de Paranaguá in the state of Paraná. An abolitionist, helped found the Sociedade Brasileira contra a Escravidão (Brazilian Society against Slavery), with Joaquim Nabuco and José do Patrocínio. A monarchist, he went into exile in Europe after the Proclamation of the Republic, in 1889. Together with his brother Antônio, also an engineer, Avenida Rebouças, crosses the West Zone of the capital city, is named in their honor. He died in 1898, at the age of 60.
2- Rua Lima Barreto
Afonso Henriques de Lima Barreto, was a journalist and writer who published novels, satires, short stories, chronicles and a vast work in periodicals, mainly in illustrated popular magazines and anarchist periodicals of the early twentieth century. Most of his work was rediscovered and published in a book after his death through the efforts of Francisco de Assis Barbosa and other researchers, leading him to be considered one of the most important Brazilian writers.
3 – Rua Teodoro Sampaio
Theodore Sampaio, the son of a black slave, was one of the greatest Brazilian thinkers of his time. An engineer by profession, he left us a bibliography of vast geographic and historical scholarship on the contribution of the São Paulo flags in the formation of the national territory, among other subjects. Formidable is its sophistication in the perception of the importance of indigenous knowledge (paths, but not only) in the bandeirante odyssey. Equally worthy of consideration was his contribution to the study of several Brazilian rivers, cave paintings in national archaeological sites, of the Tupi (Indian) in Brazilian geography and geology in the country. In this field, Brazilian geology participated in remarkable moments, as the expedition of Orville Derby at the valley of the São Francisco river and of specific commissions. In addition, he was a close friend of Euclides da Cunha, and assisted the writer with knowledge about the Bahian backlands in the preparation of the book Os Sertões.
4 – Rua José do Patrocínio
José Carlos do Patrocínio, was a pharmacist, journalist, writer, speaker and Brazilian political activist. He stood out as one of the most important figures of the Abolitionist and Republican movements in the country. He was also the founder of the Guarda Negra (Black Guard), which was formed by blacks and former slaves, being the vanguard of the movimento negro (black movement) in Brazil.
5- Rua Torres Homem
The only black man to command the Brazilian economy in all of its history.
Although considered a man of prominence in the empire, he always suffered prejudice. He was portrayed as a macaco (monkey) in cartoons of the time.
But that just proved it was talent and nothing else.
He had a successful career. In addition to a great abolitionist, he was a councilor of the state, deputy general, minister of the treasury, president of the Banco do Brasil (Bank of Brazil), and senator of the Empire.
Even though he was part of Republican secret societies, he was awarded the title of Viscount of the Emperor.
6 – Rua Cruz e Souza
Cruz e Souza was a Brazilian symbolist poet. He was the forerunner of the symbolist movement in Brazil with the publication of his works Missal (prose) and Broquéis (poetry) in 1893.
He is patron of the Academia Catarinense de Letras (Santa Catarina Academy of Letters), representing chair number 15. Beside Alphonsus de Guimaraens, he is one of the most important poets of the movement in the country.
7- Rua Mário de Andrade
Mário de Andrade was a modernist writer, literary critic, musicologist, folklorist and Brazilian cultural activist.
His literary style was innovative and marked the first modernist phase in Brazil, above all, by the valorization of Brazilian identity and culture.
Alongside several artists, he played a leading role in the organization of Semana de Arte Moderna (Modern Art Week) (1922).
8- Rua Machado de Assis
Considered the greatest name in national literature. And there’s also a need to take his genius worldwide.
He deserved it. He wrote well in virtually every literary genres.
Besides being an important reporter of social-political facts of the time, he was the introducer of realism in Brazil.
Machado wrote classics such as: Memórias Postos de Brás Cubas, Quincas Borba, Dom Casmurro, hundreds of short stories, plays, sonnets and poems.
The first president of the Academia Brasileira de Letras (Brazilian Academy of Letters) is still revered today for innovation and audacity in precocious subjects. Indeed, it was not for nothing that he has already been placed next to Dante, Shakespeare and Camões.
9- Rua Luiz Gama
Born to a free black mother and white father, he was however made a slave at age 10, when his father sold him to pay a gambling debt. He remained illiterate until he was 17 years old. He conquered his own freedom judicially and started to act as a lawyer in favor of the captives, already being at the age of 29 one of the greatest abolitionists in Brazil.
He became a renowned journalist linked to Liberal Party circles. Together with Rui Barbosa, he founded the newspaper Radical Paulistano in 1869. He was one of the few black intellectuals in nineteenth-century slave-owning Brazil, the only self-taught and the only one to have gone through the experience of captivity.
Although he didn’t graduate, he had the authorization of the judiciary to practice law in the first instance. He dedicated his life to the defense of freedom and the republic, an active opponent of the monarchy, he died six years before his dreams came true.
Extra: Rua João Cachoeira
Son of slaves, he was an aggregate of the Couto de Magalhães family. He was always very dear to the family who owned the lands that became the district of Itaim.
He was known for his joy. He worked hard for years for the same family. As a tribute to all those years of dedication, a street was named after him.
(No images of him were found)