Brasilien: Jurema Batista

Peace will only become a reality when everyone realizes the potential contained in our differences.

— Jurema Batista

Jurema Batista (1947) carried out three mandates as town councilor (Labor Party). Her electoral base is in Morro do Andaraí, Rio, where she was raised. She is a Brazilian Literature professor, and her first activity was teaching needy children. She is a member of the slum movement, the Afro-Brazilian movement, the women's movement, and she is currently a state representative and president of the Commission for the Fight against Discrimination and Prejudice based on Race, Color, Ethnicity, Religion and Nationality.

In tiny maid's rooms at the back of their houses, that is where middle-class families keep everything they do not want anymore, including old books and magazines. These leftovers nourished little Jurema's interest in reading. She used to sleep with her mom at the house where she worked and would only go back to the slum in Andaraí on the weekends. It was then that she encountered the first of her passions: Brazilian literature–which led her to university where she got a degree in Arts. The experience of living in the house where her mother worked and in the slum at Andaraí gave Jurema the consciousness of the difference between the rich and the poor. “I grew up with these two separate views of the world, and this is the source of my will to fight for change,” she says. This feeling grew stronger in the 1980s, when a worker was assassinated during a police invasion in the slum. After this episode, Jurema founded the first association of residents of a poor community. She sued the police officer and he was convicted for murder. During the trial, she became aware of the racism problem in Brazil. She quickly moved on to the Afro-Brazilian movement. She also found out that there was an even more excluded category: women. In 1985, she founded the Nizinga Collective of Afro-Brazilian Women. Jurema Batista run for town councilor in 1992 and was elected with 5000 votes, which were in large part from the people of Andaraí, where she still lives. She moved from the slum to the neighborhood, but she did not go very far from her origins. She has three daughters and one granddaughter. Jurema is proud of having given her girls the opportunity to go to university. “It was a personal victory.”

Asamblea Legislativa de Río de Janeiro