Still Present! Now and Forever
On March 14, 2018, Marielle Franco was brutally assassinated along with Anderson Gomes, her driver, on her way back from an event for young black women.
For those of you who don’t know who Marielle Franco is, she was a Brazilian city councilor from the Maré favela, one of Rio de Janeiro’s poorest and most dangerous favelas. A member of the Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL), Marielle Franco was an outspoken human rights activist who fought for the rights of women, single mothers like herself, LGBT’s rights and the rights of the poor in the Favelas. She was also a powerful voice in the Black Rights movement in Brazil and a fearless critic of the epidemic of police violence.
Born and raised in the Maré favela, Marielle Franco inspired others through her own life experience. In 2000, while attending pre-university, she got involved in activism after a friend was killed by a stray bullet during a shootout between police and gang members in the Maré Complex.
In 2002, she attended the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro on a scholarship, where she earned a degree in Social Sciences. She went on to earn her Master’s degree in Public Administration from Universidade Federal Fluminense (UFF). Her thesis, “UPP: The Reduction of the Favela to Three Letters”, analyzed the brutality of the Police Unit program that occupied the city’s favelas.
In 2007, Marielle Franco began her political career working as a consultant for state representative Marcelo Freixo. They worked together for ten years, coordinating the state legislature’s Committee for the Defense of Human Rights and Citizenship. During that time, Marielle Franco also worked for the Brazil Foundation and the Maré Center for Solidarity Studies and Action.
“The roses of resistance are born in the asphalt. We receive roses, but we will be with our fists clenched speaking of our existence against the push and pull that affects our lives.”
MARIELLE FRANCO, #MarielleLegacy
In 2016, Marielle Franco decided to run for a seat on the Rio de Janeiro city council in the municipal elections. As a black woman and single mother from the Maré favelas, Marielle Franco positioned herself as a representative and defender of poor black women and people from the favelas. She went on to win, receiving 46,500 votes, the fifth-highest vote total out of more than 1,500
candidates. Marielle Franco was the only black female representative on Rio’s 51-seat City Council, with six seats occupied by women.
As a city council member, Marielle Franco had become the face of resistance. A very active community member, she stood up for human rights and fought against gender violence, for reproductive rights, and for favela residents’ rights. She also condemned the police brutality against black Brazilians, often leading campaigns against police violence, corruption, and extrajudicial killings that targeted the poor, black residents of the favelas.
More than three years later, the world has not forgotten Marielle Franco. She is still present, now and forever, in our hearts! Let us all help spread Marielle’s legacy, defend her memory and, fight for justice, always.