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OAS to Celebrate Inter-American Week for People of African Descent in the Americas

  March 19, 2021

The Organization of American States (OAS) will celebrate, from March 22 to 26, the Fourth Annual Inter-American Week for People of African Descent in the Americas under the theme “Ending slavery’s legacy of racism: the imperative for strengthening justice and resilience in Afro-descendant communities in the Americas in the face of COVID-19.”

The OAS will hold a number of activities designed to acknowledge the legacy of slavery and the slave trade, and their consequences on the lives of Afro-descendants. The events will also examine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people of African Descent in the Americas.

The OAS Assistant Secretary General, Nestor Mendez, underscored the importance of observing the annual event with activities that foster greater awareness and respect for the heritage and culture of people of African descent and their contribution to the development of society. He noted that the selected theme for this year “highlights the ongoing struggle to eradicate the vestiges of structural racism which permeate our societies and the necessity to implement measures to address its root causes and engender a more just society.” 

The Assistant Secretary General also emphasized that the pandemic “has glaringly unmasked these social inequities where in some cases, Afro-descendants are more likely to die from Covid-19 than any other racial group,” adding that “the virus of racism must be confronted and eradicated.”

The virtual activities will include:

  • March 22 to 26: a Virtual Exhibition by the Art Museum of the Americas. The exhibit will include artwork highlighting past and ongoing struggles of Afro-descendants in confronting the legacy of slavery and showcase the life and culture of African descendants in the Americas. The exhibition will be displayed on social media platforms.
  • March 23: “Negra, Negra Soy: A Virtual Workshop about Black, African and Afro-Descendent People.” The interactive, virtual workshop will bring together persons who identify with Afro-culture and history and support the causes of importance to Afro-descendants to discuss and share experiences which have shaped their lives, and to do so through various art forms. 
  • March 25: a special meeting of the Permanent Council to commemorate the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.  Panelists will include:
    • Epsy Campbell Barr, Vice President of Costa Rica;
    • Julián Arana Baltazar, Presidential Commissioner of the Presidential Commission against Discrimination and Racism against Indigenous Peoples in Guatemala (CODISRA);
    • Diana Salazar, Attorney General of Ecuador;
    • Paulo Roberto, National Secretary for Policies for Promotion of Racial Equality of Brazil;
    • Juliana Acevedo Ávila, Human rights defender and promoter of the empowerment of Afro descendant women of Mexico.
  • March 26:  a forum to further reflect on the designated theme of the Inter-American Week for People of African Descent in the Americas with discussion panels that will include representatives from Afro-communities, national authorities with responsibility for policy on Afro-descendants, and representatives of international and/or specialized organizations, the academic community, civil society, and the private sector.

Additionally, the Organization’s national offices will also hold activities in member states throughout the week to celebrate the achievements of Afro-descendants, including poetry reading and spoken word events.

The agenda of the events is available here

WHAT: Commemorative events for the IV Inter-American Week for People of African Descent in the Americas

WHEN: March 22-26, 2021

WHERE: OAS website, Facebook and YouTube

Reference: AVI-021/21