Descendants of American Southerners wearing Confederate-era dresses and uniforms practice a dance before a party to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the end of the American Civil War in Santa Bárbara D'Oeste, Brazil, April 25, 2015. The US Civil War ended over 150 years ago, but once a year, deep in the sugar cane fields of southern Brazil, the Confederate battle flag rises again. It would be an unlikely scene in the United States, where many consider the flag a symbol of racism, slavery and segregation. Public outcry over those connotations have led to the steady withdrawal of the flag from public display in recent years. In Brazil, though, the banner is an integral part of the Festa Confederada, an annual gathering to celebrate the history of the roughly 10,000 Confederates who migrated to this South American country after their side lost the war Credit: Paulo Whitaker/Reuters
-The aroma of fried chicken and biscuits roused my appetite as the country sounds of Alison Krauss, Alan Jackson and Johnny Cash played over the loudspeakers.
This might have been a county fair back home in Tennessee, but it wasn’t. I was in a cemetery in rural Brazil, at the “Festa Confederada” — the “Confederate Party” — an annual celebration of southern US heritage held each April in Santa Bárbara d'Oeste, in São Paulo state.
A sign explaining “What the Confederate Flag Really Means” in both English and Portuguese greeted the roughly 2,500 visitors — most of them white — at the entryway of the American Cemetery. Inside, women wearing Antebellum-style hoop skirts square danced with men clad in gray Confederate uniforms. Couples in T-shirts were doing the two-step.
Just outside cemetery grounds stood black activists protesting the April 28 party with signs and banners saying, “Down with the Confederate flag.”
How did an American debate about racism make its way to Brazil? That’s a tangled question I’m unraveling in my dissertation research on the history and meaning of Confederate symbols in Brazil.
The Confederacy comes to Brazil
Brazil has a long, strange relationship with the United States Confederacy.
After the Civil War ended in 1865, ending slavery in the United States, some 8,000 to 10,000 Southern soldiers and their families left the vanquished Confederacy and went to Brazil.
There, slavery was still legal. Roughly 40% of the nearly 11 million Africans forcibly brought across the Atlantic between 1517 and 1867 went to work on sugarcane plantations in Brazil. It was the last country in the Western Hemisphere to formally abolish slavery, in 1888 — 23 years after the United States.
Legal slavery may have been a draw for the Confederate soldiers who migrated to Brazil after abolition...
REST OF ARTICLE: https://www.pri.org/stories/2019-05...ove-affair-confederacy-ignites-racial-tension