Subversive Historian – 11/20/08

Zumbi and Palmares

Three hundred and thirteen years ago on this day in people’s history, the Afro-Brazilian rebel, known as Zumbi, was executed by Portuguese Colonizers. On November 20th, 1695, the leader of a runaway slave community known as Quilombo dos Palmares, was captured in hiding and beheaded. Palmares, as a symbol of resistance, was continually attacked by the Portuguese until the Governor of Pernambuco tried to destroy it with an offer. Ganga Zumba, the leader of the runaway republic at the time, accepted the request to have the community submit to colonial authority, in exchange for the promise of their freedom. The majority of the people of Palmares under their newly appointed leader Zumbi, didn’t acquiesce and resisted until the end.

The day of Zumbi’s death is now signified in Brazil as a day of black consciousness as he and Palmares have come to be historical representations of empowerment for communities struggling against the myth of supposed racial democracy.


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