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Brazil: Celebrating Our African Heritage on MLK Day

Tara Rougle / January 17, 2011
Location where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his

Location where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his "I Have a Dream Speech"

Among the many threads in the tapestry of our history, the rich and diverse cultural heritage of African descendants is a legacy the United States and Brazil share. In 2007, the United States and Brazil signed a Joint Action Plan to Eliminate Racial and Ethnic Discrimination and Promote Equality. Through the plan, our countries work together to implement programs that promote economic, political, and social inclusion for all citizens. Recognizing each country's prominent citizens of African descent, such as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., promotes a message of tolerance as well as pride in our heritages.

Dr. Martin Luther King was a champion of the U.S. civil rights movement and a vocal advocate for social inclusion. In honor of Martin Luther King Day and to mark the International Year of People of African Descent, Public Affairs offices at U.S. diplomatic posts in Brazil are featuring two poster exhibitions highlighting the life and work of civil rights leaders, including Dr. King and Rosa Parks, as well as prominent African-American leaders who have followed, including President Obama. One poster show will be featured in a public library in a disadvantaged community in Rio de Janeiro, and the other will be displayed at Conjunto National Shopping mall in Brasilia, which attracts a cross-section of the community.

The opening ceremony in Rio de Janeiro will feature video footage from the civil rights movement, as well as a reading of King's "I Have a Dream" speech. In Brasilia, visitors to the poster show will take part in a contest in which they complete the phrase, “I have a dream…” Winning responses will receive prizes that include books about African-American artists and civil rights leaders, as well as President Obama's books translated into Portuguese. U.S. diplomatic missions in Brazil will also offer on-line quizzes about Dr. King and other prominent African-Americans and Afro-Brazilians, so citizens from throughout Brazil can participate. We will follow up Martin Luther King day activities with events in February to celebrate Black History Month, including additional poster shows, speakers, visits of African-American artists and performers, and continue to highlight these topics through social media to make 2011 a rich celebration of the contributions that peoples of African descent have made to the cultures of both the United States and Brazil.

The following links provide more information about the Joint Action Plan, as well as previous activities related to Joint Action Plan themes:

Joint Action Plan

Joint Action Plan: YouTube Video

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's Townterview With Brazil's Globo Network

Urban Bush Women Dance Group Visit to Brazil

U.S. Embassy Brasilia Photographs: Flickr set of Urban Bush Women in Brazil

U.S. Embassy Brasilia Photographs: Flickr Set of President Obama Exhibit

U.S. Embassy Brasilia YouTube Channel: U.S. Photographers at Museu Afro Brasil