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Black Consciousness Day on November 20, is a preeminent day in Brazil, set aside to commemorate Zumbi’s death — the pioneering leader of resistance to slavery — and to reflect on the tragic injustices imposed on the Black community and African descendants since the beginning of time. This day is a social movement, dedicated to recognizing the worth and unmatched contributions of the Black people in the country, by honoring their existence, and protesting against racial discrimination on a massive scale. Black Consciousness Day is a public holiday in and around hundreds of cities in Brazil.
When is Black Consciousness Day 2021?
Black Consciousness Day, also called Black Awareness Day, is observed on November 20 in Brazil.
History of Black Consciousness Day
Originally, Black Consciousness Day was celebrated on May 13 — the day when slavery was officially abolished in Brazil. It was moved to November 20 in honor of a Black hero, which amplified the day’s historical significance.
Zumbi dos Palmares was a Brazilian of Kongo origin and a leader of one of the ‘quilombos’ — a figurative settlement consisting of enslaved Africans having escaped their brutal masters. Zumbi was a freedom fighter and a legendary Black hero. He was given to Portuguese slavery at the vulnerable age of six and escaped nine years later, returning to Palmares (where he was born) and immediately launched an anti-slavery campaign against Portuguese oppression.
The campaign did wonders for enslaved Black communities, including helping accommodate runaway slaves and other minorities who were subjected to oppression. Zumbi was so brave and vigilant that many followers considered him immortal. However, betrayed by one of his own, he was finally captured by the Portuguese on November 20, 1695, immediately beheaded, and displayed as a warning sign for rebellious slaves.
Black Consciousness Day has been celebrated since the 1960s, highlighted with cultural, sociopolitical, and academic activities including public protests against inequality, discrimination, and racism. Later on, the day was moved to November 20 in honor of Zumbi’s death, the national hero who lives as a symbol of the struggle of slaves. This day is also sometimes called Zumbi Day.
Black Consciousness Day timeline
The year marks the anniversary of the birth of a leader, Zumbi, born as a freeman in Serra da Barriga, Palmares, Brazil.
Captured by the Portuguese as a slave, Zumbi escapes from oppression and returns to his home where he initiates a resistance movement.
A betrayed Zumbi is captured and slaughtered with his head put on display.
Brazil observes Black Consciousness Day countrywide with rallies, educational events, and cultural activities.
Black Consciousness Day FAQs
What were the aims of the Black Consciousness movement?
“The Black Consciousness movement of South Africa was established in 1968 and was led by the charismatic activist Stephen Biko. The movement sought to raise Black self-awareness and to unite Black students, professionals, and intellectuals,” according to Britannica.
What does Black Consciousness mean in history?
“Black Consciousness began to be defined as “an attitude of mind” or “way of life” of black people who believed in their potential and value as black people and saw the need for black people to work together for a holistic liberation,” according to Oxford Research Encyclopedias.
Who are some of the famous Black heroes in history?
Martin Luther King Jr.
How to Observe Black Consciousness Day
Celebrate the works of Black people
The Black community is one of the smartest groups of people on Earth. From cultural artists to entrepreneurs, rap singers, and app developers, they have given the world a lot to celebrate. Bring their work to the spotlight by sharing examples with friends and family on or off social media. You can use the hashtag #BlackConsciousnessDay.
Support organizations fighting for racial justice
With time, global awareness and solidarity for injustice against Black people have increased. Donate to one of the nonprofit organizations working to eradicate racism in your city.
Learn to change racial expressions — and tell everyone
This will take some guts. Kickstart the trend of mentioning one ‘racist’ expression, such as “blacklist,” on your social media and encourage its replacement with “forbidden list” to remove the connotation with the color black. “Black market,” “black sheep” — you get it?
5 Facts About Black People Who Made History You Didn’t Know
First self-made millionaire
Madam Walker was the first Black American to be a self-made millionaire by inventing the world’s first hair-straightening formula.
The Oscar winner
Hattie McDaniel was the first-ever Black American to win an Academy Award for, ironically, her portrayal as a loyal slave governess.
The founder of Black Entertainment Television, Robert Johnson, was the first Black person to become a billionaire, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Michael Jordan.
First Black American president
Barack Obama is the first-ever Black president of the United States.
George Washington Carver was a Black scientist who invented 300 derivative products from peanuts.
Why Black Consciousness Day is Important
It fights against racism
Racism is an issue not exclusive to Black people only but for society as a whole. Racial bigotry is a criminal offense and has no place in this world!
It’s a potent reminder
This day is a reminder of the injustices and oppression suffered by the Black community for ages. The reminder, ironically, is necessary to prevail for generations to come.
It celebrates a Black hero
Zumbi dos Palmares is an underrecognized Black hero of Brazil who fought fearlessly for Black people. Thousands of slaves of the past owe their freedom to Zumbi.
Black Consciousness Day dates