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Carolina Maria de Jesus (14 March 1914 – 13 February 1977) was a Brazilian outskirts memorialist who lived most of her life as a slum-dweller. She is best known for her diary, published in August 1960 as Quarto de Despejo.
Life and Career
She was born on 14 March 1914, in Minas Gerais, Brazil, and grew up in poverty, working as a domestic servant from a young age.
De Jesus was illiterate until her teenage years, but she had a natural gift for storytelling and began to write about her life and experiences as a poor, black woman in Brazil. In 1958, she gained national and international recognition with the publication of her diary, “Quarto de Despejo” (“Child of the Dark” in English), which chronicles her life in the favelas (slums) of São Paulo.
The diary was an instant success and was translated into several languages, bringing international attention to the struggles of Brazil’s poor and marginalized communities. De Jesus went on to publish several more books, including “Pedaços da Fome” (“Pieces of Hunger”), which also drew attention to the realities of poverty in Brazil.
Throughout her life, de Jesus was a vocal advocate for the rights of the poor and marginalized, and her writing was deeply political and socially engaged. She was a fierce critic of the Brazilian government and of the social and economic systems that perpetuated poverty and inequality.
De Jesus passed away on 13 February 1977, but her legacy lives on through her writing and her activism. She is remembered as one of Brazil’s most important and influential writers, and as a powerful voice for social justice and equality. Her work continues to inspire people around the world to fight for a more just and equitable society.
Award and Legacy
Carolina Maria de Jesus’ legacy is primarily that of a powerful voice for social justice and equality, particularly for poor and marginalized communities in Brazil. Some of her notable achievements include:
- Literary recognition: “Quarto de Despejo” (Child of the Dark) was a national and international bestseller, and it brought de Jesus recognition as a talented writer and social critic.
- Social impact: De Jesus’ writing shed light on the harsh realities of life in Brazil’s favelas, bringing attention to the social and economic inequalities that persist in the country. Her work helped to inspire a generation of activists and social reformers in Brazil.
- Political activism: De Jesus was a vocal critic of the Brazilian government and of the social and economic systems that perpetuated poverty and inequality. Her writing and activism helped to create a greater awareness of the need for political and social change in Brazil.
- Inspiration: De Jesus’ life and work continue to inspire people around the world to fight for social justice and equality. Her writing, in particular, has been widely celebrated for its raw honesty and powerful message.
- Commemoration: In Brazil, de Jesus is celebrated as a cultural and historical icon, and her legacy is honored through various initiatives and events, including the Carolina Maria de Jesus House of Memory, which was established in 2004 to preserve her memory and promote her work.
Today, Carolina Maria de Jesus is remembered as one of Brazil’s most important and influential writers and social activists. Her work continues to inspire people around the world to fight for a more just and equitable society, and her legacy serves as a powerful reminder of the ongoing struggle for social and economic justice in Brazil and beyond.
On 14 March 2019, Google celebrated Carolina Maria de Jesus’ 105th Birthday with a doodle.