Antonieta de Barros, teacher, journalist, writer, was the first black woman to become a state representative of the country and the first woman state deputy of the state of Santa Catarina.
Born on July 11, 1901, in Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, she was the daughter of Catherina and Rodolfo de Barros. Fatherless, she was raised by her mother. After primary school, he entered the Escola Normal Catarinense School in Santa Catarina.
Antoinette had to overcome many barriers to conquer space that, in her time, were unusual for women, and more so for a black woman. In the 1920s, she got involved in journalism, creating and directing the A Semana newspaper in Florianópolis, which she did until 1927. In this period between1922 and 1927, she conveyed her ideas, particularly related to issues of education, political mismanagement, the status of women and racial prejudice. Three years later, she began to direct the periodical Vila Ilhoa in the same city.
As an educator, soon after graduating from a teaching she founded the Curso Particular Antonieta de Barros (Antonieta de Barros Private Course), with the aim of the literacy of the poor, which she directed until her death in 1952. The course was closed in 1964. She also taught in Florianópolis, at the Colégio Coração de Jesus (College), the Escola Normal Catarinense and at Colégio Dias Velho, of which she was a director in the period from 1937-1945.
In the 1930s, she maintained an interexchange with the Federação Brasileira pelo Progresso Feminino (FBPF or Brazilian Federation for Feminine Advancement Female) as is revealed in the correspondence between her and Bertha Lutz, now preserved in the National Archives.
At the first election in which Brazilian women could vote and be elected, she joined the Partido Liberal Catarinense (Liberal Party of Santa Catarina) and was elected state representative (1934-37). She thus became the first black woman to hold a popular mandate in Brazil. She was also the first woman to join the Legislativo Estadual de Santa Catarina (State Legislatator of Santa Catarina).
After the democratization of the country with the fall of the Estado Novo (dictatorship), she ran for state representative in the 1945 elections, obtaining the first substitute for the Partido Social Democrático (Social Democratic Party or PSD). She took a place in the Legislative Assembly in 1947 and served her term until 1951. In this period, she continued fighting for the appreciation of teaching: she demanded a competition to fill the positions of teachers, suggested ways of choosing directors and advocated the granting of scholarships for higher education to needy students.
Recognized for her courage in expressing ideas within a historical context that did not allow women the freedom expression she went down in history as a pioneer of Afro-Brazilian feminism.
Using the pen name of Maria da Ilha, she wrote the book Farrapos de Idéias. She died in Florianópolis on March 28, 1952.
Source: Primeiros Negros, Quem é quem na negritude brasileira, edited by Eduardo Oliveira