Lélia Gonzalez

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Lélia Gonzalez
Born(1935-02-01)February 1, 1935
DiedJuly 10, 1994(1994-07-10) (aged 59)
OccupationAnthropologist, professor, politician

Lélia Gonzalez (February 1, 1935 – July 10, 1994) was a Brazilian intellectual, politician, professor, anthropologist and a woman human rights defender.


The daughter of a black railroad worker and an indigenous maid, she was the second youngest of eighteen siblings, including footballer Jaime de Almeida, who played for Flamengo. Born in Belo Horizonte, she moved to Rio de Janeiro in 1942.

She graduated with a degree in history and philosophy, then worked as a public school teacher. She did her master's degree in media, and her doctorate in political anthropology. She then began to devote herself to research on the relationship between gender and ethnicity. She taught Brazilian Culture at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, where she headed the department of sociology and politics.

As a secondary school teacher at CAp-UERJ (part of Rio de Janeiro State University) during the dictatorship of the sixties, she made her philosophy classes a space of resistance and sociopolitical critique, which influenced the thought and action of her students.

She helped found institutions such as the Black Movement of Brazil, Research Institute of Black Cultures (Instituto de Pesquisas das Culturas Negras, IPCN), the Black Women's Collective, N'Zinga, and the group Olodum. Her activism in defense of black women carried it to the National Council on Women's Rights, where she worked from 1985 to 1989. She was a federal legislative candidate for the Workers' Party, being chosen as the first alternate. In the next election, in 1986, she ran for state representative for the Democratic Labour Party, being chosen again as a substitute.


Among other tributes, Lélia Gonzalez is the namesake of a state public school in the neighborhood of Ramos in Rio de Janeiro, a reference center of black culture in Goiânia, and a cultural cooperative in Aracaju. She was quoted by the African bloc Ilê Aiyê in two editions of the Carnival of Bahia: in 1997, as part of the story "Black Pearls of Knowledge", and in 1998 with "Candace".

In 2003, the playwright Márcio Meirelles wrote and directed the play Candaces - A reconstrução do fogo ("Candaces: A Reconstruction of Fire"), based on her work.

In 2010, the government of the state of Bahia created the Lélia Gonzalez Award to encourage public policies towards women in Bahia municipalities.

External links[edit]

  • "Entrevista: Lelia Gonzalez - Uma mulher de luta" [Interview: Lelia Gonzalez - A woman fighting] (in Portuguese). Archived from the original on 2004-02-21.