Demanding the Devil Say Mass: Black Educational Struggle in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, 1984-1989


Education has long been central to the work of Brazilian Black Movements and continues to be one the most important fields for action (Covin, 2006; Pereira, 2015). In a recent study, Black activists and militantes throughout Brazil identified the struggle for the implementation of Federal Law 10,639/03 as the second most urgent struggle of the movement, just after the fight against police violence (Pereira et al., 2020). This struggle for formal curricular representation that presents Black history and culture more fully and accurately dates back as early as the 1930s, when the Frente Negra Brasileira (Brazilian Black Front) critiqued school textbook content (Domingues, 2008). I’ve seen first-hand how the longevity of this particular battle has led to frustration for activists in Salvador da Bahia. This project seeks to frame the current moment of frustration within the long legacy of Black educational activism in Salvador. In the Summer of 2020, I conducted research in online archives in order to better understand the educational battles fought by the contemporary Black movement in Salvador in relation to the fight for Black education today. This project attempts to tell a story of Black educational organizing in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, namely the story of the struggle for school curriculum reform near the end of the 20th century. More than just a spotlight on historic educational struggles, my work reveals a pattern in Black educational organizing in Brazil; a pattern of promises followed by failure to commit to implementation. This legacy of organizing is matched by a legacy of state neglect and displaced responsibility.

Publication date: 
August 15, 2020
Publication type: 
Student Research