The Legacy of Palmares and Zumbi

While Zumbi, and along with him Palmares itself, were physically destroyed on November 20th, 1695, their significance is still evident. Today, Zumbi is a folk hero who represents the Afro-Brazilian struggle against oppression and slavery. Zumbi defiantly continued his struggle even after he was all but virtually defeated – embodying the spirit of defiance against the standing order. Today, in honor of his death, Brazil celebrates Black Consciousness Day every November 20th, while artists, musicians, and filmmakers continue to keep celebrating Zumbi’s spirit.[1]

For example, Jorge Ben Jor’s “Zumbi”

Mestre Moraes’ “Rei Zumbi dos Palmares”

And Quilombo, a 1984 film from director Carlos Diegues.

The continued and lasting cultural significance of individuals such as Zumbi shows that Atlantic and global processes converged, created new cultural beliefs and practices in the New World, and were able to do so while not even being in direct contact with the Atlantic itself.


[1] Anderson, Robert Nelson, “The Quilombo of Palmares: A New Overview of a Maroon State in Seventeenth-Century Brazil.” Journal of Latin American Studies 28, no. 3 (1996): 546.