From Maid to Congress: Meet Brazilian Political Activist, Andreia De Jesus

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I want to continue to highlight some of the Black women political candidates in this year’s Brazilian electoral races with the hope that it will give the Black community in the United States an idea of the social progress at stake in our diaspora. 

Andréia de Jesus was born in the Venda Nova district of Belo Horizonte, the capital city of southeastern Brazil’s Minas Gerais state. She is a public defender,  educator, and the current State deputy. She is a member of the Workers Party (PT), the leftist party founded in 1980. It is part of one of the largest and most important left-wing movements in Latin America. 

In 2018, the Legislative Assembly of Minas Gerais saw its first Black woman as a deputy when Andreia de Jesus was elected to her first term.

Deputies can be likened to the function of state and federal Representatives in the United States.

Since her election, she has been facing a sexist and racist environment while fighting for policies that truly reflect the concerns of the people.

According to her campaign website, Andreia fights to guarantee rights for all women:

“…mothers who sleep at the doors of prisons, the homeless and landless, with quilombos and traditional communities.”

Andreia worked as a domestic worker (housemaid) for many years. She believes her work is to represent those who struggle in the lower classes of society. 

Andreia recalls her political education beginning at home with her parents who were illiterate but always passed on to their children the importance of exercising the right to vote. She practiced social activism at an early age, fighting for housing and criminal abolitionism.

On the campaign trail, she often remarks about how her inspirations were inspired by other Black women who came before her like the late Marielle Franco.

“Marielle Franco called me. She called me to be here today. Her death made us get up. Today what guides me in my life is this ancestor, this woman who is much bigger than the last name, than the name, that the position she held, Marielle Franco will continue to guide us.”

As state deputy, Andreia has built her platform around universal human rights issues. According to her website: 

  • Defend the rights of Black Brazilians. 
  • Create policies and actions to improve the quality of life of quilombola communities. 
  • Defend the rights of indigenous people. 
  • Report religious intolerance. 
  • More government investments in the outskirts of cities. 

Like the United States and Europe, right-wing fascist movements are steadily rising and working to stop progressive movements. Campaigns like Andreia’s face an uphill battle. If you would like to contribute your support internationally, you can do so at her fundraising site here.

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