Honoring the Legacy of Marielle Franco from Los Angeles to New York

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Today, March 14, 2019, marks one year after the assassination of Brazilian Councilwoman Marielle Franco, who fought tirelessly for the rights of women, the poor and the LGBT communities in her native country. Two recent events in the United States were held in celebration of her too-short-yet-impactful life, and more are listed below:

International Women’s Day Honor – The Bronx, NY

A seventh grade class at Fannie Lou Hamer Middle Schoolselected Marielle Franco as their honoree this year for International Women’s DayShirley Phillips, CEO and Founder of Go Girlz Inc., stated, “Marielle ignited a new generation of young activists willing to protect her legacy. These students did all the artwork themselves. I did nothing except direct and lead them to research.”

Fight Like Marielle Franco – Lute Como Marielle Franco – Los Angeles, CA

The L.A. Chapter of Coletivo Por Um Brasil Democratico gathered a group of music artists, activists and scholars together at Los Angeles City Hall for a tribute of heartfelt music, teary-eyed speeches, and readings of one of Marielle’s essays in Portuguese, Spanish and English.

Fabio Koelsch gave the opening speech:

Arro Verse & Friends performed a song about Marielle “Glory Eyes” written by Arro Verse.

Music Artist, Producer, Composer from Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, Zoe D’Orey, wrote and read a touching letter to Marielle:

Dear Marielle,

I wish you were here.  You can’t imagine how much happened after your assassination.  It’s as if we were all asleep and we woke up and marched to the center of Rio de Janeiro with our kids, our friends, our neighbors.  We were all there.

But not only there, we were all over Brazil, but not only in Brazil.  In less than 42 hours following your death, there were 3.6 million tweets from users in 54 countries.

We all know how improbable and unique your trajectory was.  A black LGBT woman raised in one of Rio’s largest, poorest and most violent slums – the Mare complex.

Following the statistics, we could never imagine that you would conquer a scholarship in a private college and not only graduate but also obtain a master degree in sociology and public administration.  You were so prepared to change Brazil. Out of 1500 candidates running for public office you were the 5th most voted, and it was just your first time running!  Imagine how far you would go if you were still here. I would vote for you for president no doubt!

We could see you were a breath of fresh air in Brazil.  You made young people believe in politics again. You did not settle for the reality in which you grew up.  You dedicated your life to transforming the lives of the most vulnerable residents of your city. You became an activist to help those in need and end the abuses you also faced throughout your life.

What’s even more beautiful is that as a human rights defender, you backed the interests of not only the victims of military violence but also the families of police officers killed on duty.  You were on the side of the victims, whether they were police officers or civilians, demanding justice and change!

How was it like to wake up every day and walk through the streets of Mare and pass through so many houses full of bullet holes that weren’t even bothered to be fixed because it would happen over and over again?  How was it like to see kids not going to school because war was declared that day? How many times did your daughter, as a small child, have to lay down on the floor of her school, to wait for the fire to stop? Did you have to do the same?  How was it like to be a single mother at the age of 19 and still graduate from college? How was it like to have a friend killed by mistake from a bullet shot between the police and the drug dealers?

In Brazil, not much happens when a black life is taken.  They probably thought it would be forgotten, just like so many black lives that are taken and most people don’t even hear about.

Marielle, if you were here now, I would like to tell you that you will never be silenced.  We will echo your voice and it will be loud.

We are here and all over the world honoring your life.  We are here and we won’t rest until we end the massacre of black lives, activist lives, and the less privileged lives.  We won’t rest until it’s safe to live and walk in the slums of Brazil. We won’t rest until there are equal opportunities so that drug dealing won’t be the easiest answer for the people in the slums that are tired of seeing their elderly work as almost slaves and still don’t have enough money to live with minimum comfort. You had to work at the age of 11 to help play the bills in your house.  We won’t rest until kids go out to play and not to work!

Marielle, thank you for your generosity.  But I have to say that even though your life was so crucial to opening so many eyes, I still wish you were here.

Upcoming Events Near You:

March 14 – Los Angeles, CA – Round Table: Structural Racism & the Marielle Franco Legacy – 4-6pm, 4371 UCLA Luskin Public Affairs

March 14 – Baton Rouge, LA – Panel at the National Conference of Black Political Scientists

March 14 – Boston, MA – “Racismo, Feminicidio, Homofobia: Uma Visao Historica de Tragedia Brasileira” – Harvard University Robinson Hall

March 14 – Washington, D.C. – Brazilians for Democracy and Social Justice Tribute to Marielle and Anderson in front of the White House – 6:30pm

March 14 – Princeton, NJ – “Black Feminisms across the Americas:  A Tribute to Political Activist Marielle Franco” – Princeton University – 5-7pm

March 14 – Providence, RI – Vigil for Marielle and Anderson – Brown University’s Main Green – 6pm

March 14 – NYC, NY – Washington Square Park – Defend Democracy in Brazil

March 18 – State College, PA – I, A Black Woman, Resist – Marielle Franco Documentary – Penn State

March 19 – Washington, DC – I, A Black Woman, Resist – Marielle Franco Documentary – Howard University

March 23 – Atlanta, GA – I, A Black Woman, Resist – Marielle Franco Documentary – Spelman College

March 30 – Goldsboro, NC – I, A Black Woman, Resist – Marielle Franco – Repairers of the Breach

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