Atlantic Archives: Angela Davis Visits Brazil


Anielle Franco, the Minister of Racial Equality, and activist and scholar Angela Davis attended the opening of the 17th annual International Congress of the Brazilian Association of Comparative Literature (Abralic), which was held at a hotel in the city on Monday.

A number of well-known figures from the literary and intellectual worlds attended the congress, which aims to encourage discussion and debate on comparative literature. In addition to being a minister and a teacher, Anielle Franco emphasized the significance of taking part in an international literature event with role models like Angela Davis.

Conceiço Evaristo, a writer from Minas Gerais, and Anielle Franco took part in a conversation on the subject of “Black women’s radical artistic, political and ethical project for the creation of a shared world.”

Conceiço Evaristo was able to take part in the videoconference while Anielle was in the room.

Professor Florentina Souza, who holds a Ph.D. in comparative literature, oversaw the mediation process at the Federal University of Bahia (UFBA)’s Institute of Letters. The roundtable with Angela Davis, themed “Abolitionism, Feminism, and the Future of the Left,” was one of the most eagerly awaited events of the Congress. Professors Denise Carrascosa, Ph.D. in Literary Criticism from UFBA, and Gina Dent, editor of Black Popular Culture, also attended the event.

During her talk, Davis compared Brazil to a phoenix and said that, despite its problems, the country is a “beacon of hope” in the political struggle of black women.

“It looks like a phoenix that, every time you are beaten, rises from these ashes. In the United States, we are mainly inspired by the way politics has unfolded here”, said Davis, Tuesday in Salvador.

In the lecture, she said she was privileged for the opportunity to visit Brazil and said she was impressed with the way in which black women’s movements have emerged in the country over the last few years. And she recalled councilwoman  Marielle Franco, murdered in March 2018, as a symbol of this struggle.

Davis also made reference to candomblé leaders as a form of activism. “ Black feminism  was born in Brazil. Brazil is a country in which, in the context of candomblé, the leadership of older black women is taken seriously, it is respected.”

Davis came to Salvador and launched the book “Abolitionismo. Feminism. Já” edited by Companhia das Letras, in co-authorship with American intellectuals and activists Gina Dent, Beth Richie and Erica Meiners. The book evokes abolitionist feminism as the most inclusive version of the movement, which also encompasses anti-racist, anti-colonialist and anti-capitalist struggles. When talking about the book, Davis highlighted the importance of analyzing feminism and abolitionism broadly and together. She also celebrated that the book was produced at a time when racial issues gained more space in the international public debate.

“When we started talking about abolitionism 20 years ago, we never imagined that we would see this topic in public debate. I never imagined that I would experience the consequences of this work”, she said, highlighting the role of activists in this process. In addition to Davis, Professor Gina Dent, co-author of the book and professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Professor Denise Carrascosa, from UFBA, also participated in the lecture. 

The Minister of Racial Equality, Anielle Franco, attended the event in Salvador.

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