Public personality and politician

“We have to occupy the positions of power,” Abdias strongly advised the black activists of the 1970s. Together, they moved from advice to action with the academic output and by organizing international debates and events.

To that end, in 1954 Abdias ran for councillor of the city of Rio de Janeiro and, in 1962, for a position at the Legislative Assembly of the state of Rio de Janeiro on behalf of the former Partido Trabalhista Brasileiro [Brazilian Labor Party] (PTB). Moreover, he served as a congressman from 1983 to 1987 and a senator from 1997 to 1999 on behalf of the Partido Democrático Trabalhista [Democratic Labor Party] (PDT).

Speech

Abdias Nascimento's address at the Partido Democrático Trabalhista [Democratic Labor Party]'s convention held at the National Congress in 1982 | Ipeafro’s Collection

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Abdias Nascimento and sociologist Darcy Ribeiro at a tribute dinner honoring Abdias at the Copacabana Palace Hotel, Rio de Janeiro, 1991 | Ipeafro’s Collection

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Timeline - politics

1982 – PDT’s congressional candidate, eventually elected Third Alternate (1982-1987 term). In the same election, Brizola was elected governor of Rio de Janeiro.

1983 – As a congressman, Abdias submits the Bill of Resolution No. 58, which proposes the creation of the Comissão do Negro [Black People’s Commission].

1984 – Abdias and Elisa Larkin move Ipeafro’s headquarters to Rio de Janeiro and turn it from an institute into a non-profit association. Abdias intercedes with Governor Leonel Brizola to have the Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (Uerj) honor Nelson Mandela with the distinction of Doctor Honoris Causa degree.

1988 – Abdias was charged with setting up the Comissão do Centenário da Abolição [Commission of the Abolition Centennial Anniversary], which would pave the way to establishment of the Fundação Cultural Palmares [Palmares Cultural Foundation].

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Abdias Nascimento's speech on the Senate floor

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1982: indigenous leader and politician Mário Juruna (1943-2002) talks to Abdias Nascimento. They both belonged to the same party, PDT | Elisa Larkin Nascimento | Ipeafro’s Collection

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Leonel Brizola delivers a speech alongside Juruna. Abdias Nascimento appears on the right corner of the picture | Ipeafro’s Collection

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Luís Inácio Lula da Silva and Abdias Nascimento at the Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo (PUC-SP) during the 3rd Congress of Black Culture of the Americas, 1982. At the table, activist Esmeralda Brown, from Panama, the union leader Marvin Wright Lindo, from Costa Rica, and professor Anani Dzidzienyo, from Ghana | Ipeafro’s Collection

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1983: Marietta Campos Damas and Rodrigues Alves pose with Abdias Nascimento on his congressional inauguration on behalf of PDT | Elisa Larkin Nascimento | Ipeafro’s Collection

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Newsletter about the structure and projects of affirmative action of the Secretaria Extraordinária para Defesa e Promoção das Populações Afro-Brasileiras [Special Office for Defense and Promotion of Afro-Brazilian Populations] (Sedepron) | Ipeafro’s Collection

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Newsletter about the structure and projects of affirmative action of the Secretaria Extraordinária para Defesa e Promoção das Populações Afro-Brasileiras [Special Office for Defense and Promotion of Afro-Brazilian Populations] (Sedepron) | Ipeafro’s Collection

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"There is still time for Brazil to play a more positive role in its relations with the African world, an integral part of the hemisphere of which we are, owing to the significance attached to figures, the natural leaders."

Abdias Nascimento's speech on the Senate floor on June 25,1997.

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1991: Abdias Nascimento, then head of the Secretaria Extraordinária para Defesa e Promoção das Populações Afro-Brasileiras [Special Office for the Defense and Promotion of Afro-Brazilian Populations] (Sedepron) and Nelson Mandela, newly released from prison, during the visit of the South African leader to Brazil. At the time, Mandela was received as a head of state by Governor Leonel Brizola | Ipeafro’s Collection

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Abdias Nascimento, Elisa Larkin Nascimento and Kofi Annan at the United Nations (UN) headquarters, New York, United States, 1997 | Evan Schneider | Ipeafro’s Collection

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From left to right: Minister Matilde Ribeiro of the Secretaria Especial de Políticas de Promoção da Igualdade Racial [Special Office of Racial Equality Promotion Policies], President Luís Inácio Lula da Silva, Elisa Larkin Nascimento and Abdias Nascimento | Ricardo Stuckert | Ipeafro’s Collection

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"The police replaces the slave hunters, while the whip and the whipping post give way to the pau-de-arara [a physical torture technique putting the person in a bird's perch position] and the dragon's chair [an electric shock chair]. But the spirit presiding over this process is exactly the same: keeping the blacks – and by extension the poor in general – in their place, that is, on the outskirts, on the sidelines of the country's development process, unable to claim a fair share of the national cake."

Abdias Nascimento's speech on the Senate floor on April 17, 1997.