National Day of Zumbi: Consciousness in Brazil

Celebrated on the 20th of November, the holiday was established officially by Law No. 12,519 on November 10, 2011, and sanctioned by President Dilma Rousseff. This affirmed the history of Black people in Brazil, while commemorating the life of one of their most brilliant military leaders,  Zumbi dos Palmares, who died on Nov. 20, 1695.

Zumbi: Black Brazil’s Legendary History of Resistance
Zumbi dos Palmares was the leader of the independent settlement, Quilombo of Palmares - located between the states of Alagoas and Pernambuco, in northeastern Brazil, which was founded by early Brazilian Africans as a resistance to European colonizers and slavers.
The Quilombo Of Palmares can therefore be considered one of the the first places, in the Americas, where Black people, who were brought to the New World enslaved, found freedom. Here they bravely fought against enslavement for almost a hundred years as the Portuguese attempted to colonize Brazil.
The Quilombo emerged in the late sixteenth century and peaked in the second half of the seventeenth century. During this time, resistance to the current slave order was only possible because of adept organizational, military and architectural skills: the Quilombo was surrounded by a high fence made of clay, and palm trees. It had three entrances protected by at least two hundred warriors, who possessed weapons and ammunition, and managed to defeat the expeditions of the colonial government several times, which sought to destroy the Republic of Palmares and the freedom it embodied.

Zumbi, born in the Quilombo in 1655, was kidnapped as a child by soldiers and given to a priest by the name of Father Antonio Melo. He was baptized with the name Francisco and taught Portuguese and Latin. In the year 1670, at only fifteen years old, he resisted the white settlers who he lived among, fleeing from the parish to return to his original home in the Quilombo.


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