In a breathtaking display of unity and strength, Black women from all corners of the state of Rio de Janeiro converged on the picturesque shores of Copacabana on Sunday, July 30. The 9th March of Black Women, organized by the State Forum of Black Women – RJ, served as a powerful platform to denounce racism, oppression, violence, and champion well-being for the Black community.
The march marked the culmination of a week of mobilization leading up to the International Day of Black Latin American and Caribbean Women, celebrated on July 25, and the eve of the International Day of African Women on July 31.
The literary luminary, Maria da Conceição Evaristo, renowned for her works that combat the oppression faced by Black people, opened the march with a passionate manifesto. Addressing the thousands of Black women present, she declared, “We will occupy one of the most visible Brazilian beaches; it is an act of courage and denunciation.”
The event witnessed the active participation of several collectives dedicated to the fight against racial inequality, and it offered a platform to young leaders, including inspiring children like ten-year-old Alia Terra. “We are fighting here with all women, always united against all kinds of violence and racism and for well-being,” Alia declared to resounding applause.
As the marchers weaved along Copacabana’s waterfront, their voices echoed with powerful chants of unity and hope. Banners, placards, and images of Black women who fought for the defense, respect, and empowerment of the Black population adorned the procession. These powerful figures included writer Carolina Maria de Jesus, singer Elza Soares, intellectual Lélia Gonzalez, 18th-century quilombola leader Tereza de Benguela, and Rio de Janeiro councilwoman Marielle Franco, whose tragic assassination in 2018 shook the nation.
Minister of Racial Equality, Anielle Franco, Marielle’s sister, graced the march with her presence, emphasizing the significance of having so many Black women gathered in a neighborhood where they are usually seen only as laborers. Anielle’s words resonated with strength and determination, stating, “We are marching, we are not scattered, on the contrary. How good it is that we have the federal government leading effective public policies, from health to education, security, which is the most important thing.”
Lawyer Marinete da Silva, Marielle’s mother, powerfully proclaimed, “We are here to say, day after day, that we are assuming more and more of this power and this place of speech, which belongs to us. This July represents us. It’s Black women’s July.”
Clatia Vieira, one of the march’s organizers, passionately advocated for more Black women in politics, expressing the collective desire for a Black woman to occupy the next seat in the Supreme Federal Court. Clatia’s vision and hope for a more inclusive and representative political landscape underscored the march’s determination for meaningful change.
The march was not just a celebration but a movement to face struggles head-on. The statistics paint a stark reality – Black women represent 67% of the victims of feminicide and 89% of the victims of sexual violence. In the job market, they bear the brunt of unemployment. The demands for justice, equality, and well-being reverberated through the crowd, unified in their quest for a better future.
The event culminated with the presence of music groups like Filhos de Gandhi, commemorating their 70th anniversary. The sight of mothers bringing their small children, nurturing a love for the anti-racist struggle, exemplified the legacy of resilience and hope passed down through generations.
The International Day of Black Latin American and Caribbean Women, created by the United Nations in 1992, pays tribute to the rich history and accomplishments of Black women in the region. In Brazil, it also commemorates the remarkable life of Tereza de Benguela, the valiant leader of the Quariterê Quilombo in the 18th century.
As the sun set on Copacabana, the march of Black women stood as a testament to their unwavering resilience, strength, and determination in the face of adversity. Their collective voice, like a rising tide, continues to call for justice, equality, and well-being for all.