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'A global fight for breath': A look at the Black Lives Matter: Brazil-USA display

In spring 2020, Professor of History John French and Silvio Luiz de Almeida, Mellon Visiting Professor in the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, led the course "Black Lives Matter: Brazil-USA," in which students examined the Black Lives Matter movement in both countries and developed an exhibit based on their findings. At the time, they hoped to open the gallery in the Franklin Gallery @ History in Classroom Building. The gallery opened virtually in fall 2020 before going on display in Penn Pavilion in spring 2021. 

In an email to The Chronicle, French wrote that the display is an "internationalist project that aims to combine exciting visual imagery and messaging." He and de Almeida are thankful "for the growth in [their] knowledge and effectiveness form working binationally and collaboratively" with the students in their course and curators of the posters.

"This installation addresses the movements to defend Black lives in Brazil and the United States," a poster reads. "It offers a global perspective on the right against racist police violence and structural racism and demands respect for the rights of Black people."

One of the signs details the "ongoing genocide against Black people in Brazil," citing statistics that Brazilian police killed 24,741 citizens, 76% of whom were Black, between 2015 and 2019. Black Brazilians are 2.7 times more likely to be killed by police than white Brazilians, according to the display.

"As a world of freedom struggles demonstrates, we need to fight for a politics of life that recognizes that where there is racism and injustice, there will never be peace nor a good life and equality for all," French wrote. "Racism is everybody's problem the U.S. and Brazil cannot be set right if we do not tear racism up by its roots."

French added that the display is a step towards "making Duke an international reference point for anti-racist education and activism and, eventually, a model of equity and respect for difference."

The display calls on viewers to "listen, learn, and put your resources—money, time, power, platform, knowledge—behind Black-led organizations and movements fighting racism and inequity." 

"It's way past time," a sign reads.

Photos by Bella Bann and Leah Boyd. Nadia Bey contributed reporting.