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Defending Rio’s Little Africa

On May 25, Rio de Janeiro’s councilwoman Thais Ferreira, an Afro-Brazilian female political activist, launched a project which intends to show and promote the importance of a historical Afro-Brazilian site located in Rio’s downtown region. The geographical site known as Little Africa, Pequena África in Portuguese, was the gateway door where most Africans were received to work as slaves in Brazil. Little Africa was also a place where freed Black people established themselves to create a huge Black settlement, after the ending of transatlantic slave trade in 1850. However, despite its importance to Brazil’s history, Little Africa has been abandoned for decades. According to Ferreira, the reason might be the attempt of wiping out the Afro-Brazilian heritage in the city. “I can’t imagine another reason, but racism. Even with international recognition, Rio’s Little Africa still doesn’t have the infrastructure to receive visitors and tourists. We are going to change that, by demanding more investments from the city hall.”