king boy

Image: Marcelo Guimarães Lima


Commentary on the recently released book, by Maria José de Souza

Volumes I and II of Chico Rei: 50 years (1963- 2013), by Maria José de Souza, popularly known as Tita, describes half a century of activities of this entity of black people, in the municipality of Poços de Caldas (MG), which, through ups and downs, managed to maintain fellow founders, tireless leaders and black stalwarts who They added several names and several institutions aiming at the inclusion of black people in society.

Tita was born in Poços de Caldas, in 1939, and has remained there until today. Daughter of Francisco Pinto de Souza, a semi-educated bricklayer, and Maria das Neves Balbino, an illiterate washerwoman, she has always lived with the city's poor, black and peripheral community. Her father, influenced by the ideas of the Communist Party, had a keen view of the exploitation that permeated labor and class relations. Graduated in Philosophy, History and Pedagogy, master in Social Sciences, from the Federal University of Bahia, she studied the master's courses in Anthropology at Unicamp hosted by Carlos Rodrigues Brandão.

It is worth remembering some anecdotal passages from Tita's life. She says that, as a girl, living in the Macacos neighborhood, in Poços de Caldas, she saw several times Luiz Gonzaga (1912- 1989), Brazilian composer and singer, known as the King of Baião, born in Exu, Pernambuco, and who fixed residence for some time in the municipality. A small girl, she says she remembers seeing him riding a horse in Praça Dr. Pedro Sanches and Rua Assis Figueiredo wearing leather pants and vest, bandit hat, brooches, colored ribbons, cartridge belt and embroidered scuppers.

He reports that he met the family that worked for Luiz Gonzaga, the same one that later came to work for the family of Antonio Candido (1918- 2017), whose father, rheumatologist Aristides Candido de Mello e Souza (1885- 1942), was hired by the government of the State of Minas Gerais, in the late 1920s, to install and manage the Thermas Antônio Carlos in the city of Poços de Caldas.

The beginning of Dr. Aristides' work process took place in the years 1928 to 1929 when the family remained in Europe, more specifically in France, Germany, Italy and Czecholovakia, with the aim of learning about the organization of the large spa resorts in these countries. . In France he took advanced courses in the areas of Hydrology, Physiotherapy and Rheumatology in Vichy, having been a student of Marie Curie in Paris.

When he returned, the family lived in the municipality and maintained the house that was lived in for decades by Antonio Candido's brother. Tita, in the 1980s, for different reasons and opportunities, developed an epistolary relationship with Antonio Candido, being responsible for bringing him to the municipality for several special events. Missives from her, always written by hand, led him to present her with a typewriter, since neither she nor the entity of which she was president had this equipment.

Tita became a teacher and worked for twenty-six years in municipal schools in Poços de Caldas, teaching humanities subjects, such as history, philosophy and sociology, for high school, youth and adult education and higher education. . She didn't have a car and didn't even learn to drive, which led her to walk the city's streets, use public transport every day and adopt the cafes in the city center as an office to meet the population.

She is a popular woman who was involved in cultural projects that subsidized carnival blocks, education projects such as Zero Illiteracy, inclusive landscaping and urban planning projects and also served as a councilor (2001- 2004), for the Workers' Party party. (PT).

During her tenure as councilor, Tita presented 22 Draft Laws, 04 Project Amendments, 72 Indications, 03 Motions, 08 Legislative Decree Projects, 01 Amendment Project to the Organic Law, 01 Complementary Law Project, 26 Requests. Among them, I highlight: the Draft Laws that provide for the creation of: municipal register of entities and social movements, Afro-Brazilian Cultural and Environmental Park, Employment and salary plan for civil servants as presidents of the Municipal Council, “poems on the bus” Program , “healthy woman” Program, Assistance Service for inmates in the municipal public jail, Compulsory notification system in cases of violence against women, SOS discrimination, Municipal Community Council to Support Citizenship at School, Municipal Education School with Full Time, Parque Cultural Recanto dos Orixás, Mandatory application of medicines that inhibit the transmission of the HIV virus to unborn children in hospitals and maternity wards of the public and private health network of Poços de Caldas, Restructuring of the Institute of Social Security and Assistance for Municipal Public Servants (ISPAM).

She served as president of the Municipal Council of Culture from 2005 to 2008 and as Secretary of the Municipal Council of Education from its installation in 2003 to 2004, representing the city's popular groups.

His social and political trajectory also gravitated towards the actions of the king boy, an entity that represented in significant moments and that mobilized, locally, relevant agendas and debates that took place throughout the country around racial issues, the concrete conditions of existence of the black population and Afro-Brazilian cultural manifestations, from the decade from 1970.

Tita started acting in king boy in 1974, he soon became a member of the board and remained there until 2009. He mobilized the entity and other associations for many racial awareness events in the city, such as the commemoration of the 300th anniversary of Zumbi's murder, which occurred in 1995, with the help of participation of Instituto Moreira Salles and other supporters.

He brought several renowned intellectuals to the city's agenda and events, such as the historian Francisco Iglésias, the São Paulo poet José da Silva (Cuti) and the literary critic Antonio Candido, who did not refuse the invitation and supported one of the renovations of the space. Club transferring him the amount of one thousand dollars. She belonged to the State Council for Participation and Development of the Black Community of Minas Gerais and created the Municipal Council of the Black Community of Poços de Caldas. She does not call herself a researcher, as she claims that her writings “correspond only to the record of her daily activities” (Volume 1, second edition).

Volumes I and II make up a collective work. The initial objective was to collect fundamental biographies of insurgent black women from Sueli Carneiro's generation who collaborated in the construction of the Black Movement aiming to transform the living conditions of the black population. However, the work goes beyond biographical boundaries and brings primary documentary sources for researchers engaged in anti-racial struggles.

Volume I, with 462 pages, is dedicated to around three hundred men and women, black men and women, companions in the trajectory and political activism of public exposure and awareness of the culture and thoughts of black people. It shows, through the reproduction of minutes, the daily life of the entity founded in 1963 as Chico King Club, whose activities ended in 1988, when the company name was changed to Chico Rei Culture Center, seeking to meet new guidelines suggested by black families. Thus, the work can be taken as a source of research on cultural manifestations and resistance.

The entity's intention was to bring together the black population of the municipality, becoming, in these initial 25 years of existence, an instrument of unity and representation of the community that took on the organization of the São Sebastião Festival.

Furthermore, the Chico King Club carried out the playful work of organizing the Queen's coronation balls, lunches, dinners and, also, philanthropic work with the “high society of social ladies”, emerging from obscurity and becoming a partner in social movements linked to other groups and other guidelines.

In service to the black community, the Club worked to strengthen Afro-Brazilian identity through culture and the right to exercise citizenship through various activities and established relationships, such as the recovery of congada and kayak groups at the São Benedito Festival (from May 3 to 13) , which became emblematic and an expression of the religious culture of the majority of the city's population.

The proposal for cultural production with an Afro-Brazilian matrix led to king boy to give visibility to Umbanda's religious rituals based on the work to raise awareness of black identity and the fight against racism through the valorization of other cultural productions that appeared marginally in the city. And also, the strengthening of political confrontation in defense of the population of African ancestry, which was enslaved for a long time in the region, so that it could remake itself and rebuild itself as a conscious and transformative agent of the status quo.

Volume II, with 642 pages, is dedicated to eleven women who courageously faced the entity's challenges for 25 years. Thanks are addressed to professor Glaúcia Costa Boaretto, director of APAE in the municipality, “responsible for collaboration and sharing in the nutrition of children and adolescents in Quilombo do Ambrósio” (p. 5).

The second volume records the new corporate name assumed from 1988 onwards, responding as Chico Rei Afro Brazilian Culture Center. It brings the primary documentary sources of the Minutes and points out the expansion of the political debate on racial issues in line with the national political discussion, which was going through a period of openness and resumption of democratic principles and ambience. Without neglecting the festive aspect of the balls, the coronation of the Queen and philanthropic social collaboration, it added new concerns around social rights that had as its maximum expression the installation and work carried out in the “House for Support for Children and Adolescents in situations of risk: Quilombo do Ambrósio” (1995- 2000).

This new phase included the active participation of youth, assuming the constitution of several boards and actions. The young wing, sons and daughters of former directors, felt invested with citizen power and took over the space for struggle, education and leisure. Many young people have fled to the United States, as there are private companies in the region that advise on issuing passports, applying for a visa and placing them on the job market. However, a portion of those who remained took up the cause of combating racism and political participation as a strategy for living and surviving. In this context, in 2000, professor Tita's candidacy for PT was launched, and she became the city's most voted councilor.

These facts suggest that the king boy created and directed by men and women, black men and women, it was able to last half a century in a conservative city, with a slave past, in an exclusionary country, contributing to an anti-racist human formation filled with parties, dances, atabaques, typical foods, dances of valuing black beauty and creating other ethical, aesthetic, identity and belonging markers, which asserted themselves apart from the white stereotype hegemonized by the mass media.

Volume III is seeking sponsors and is in the process of being published, as photographs of the activities narrated in the minutes contained in Volumes I and II will be displayed. In this way, it will be possible to identify the faces, names, expressions, emotions of a group that was created with struggle and freedom, limits and possibilities, “collaborating to combat prejudice, discrimination and, mainly, racism in Brazilian society” ( second ear, Volume II).

Thus, I hope to awaken in people the desire to get closer to this work and, like the Chico Rei, bring from the margins to the center the recognition of the presence and contribution of the black population in the constitution of our Brazilianness.

* Deborah Mazza is a professor in the Department of Social Sciences in Education at Unicamp. Author, among other books, of Paulo Freire, culture and education (Unicamp Publisher). []


SOUZA (TITA), Maria José de. Chico Rei: 50 years old. Volume I and Volume II. Belo Horizonte, Mazza Edições, 2023.

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