In a first-of-its-kind use of modern technology, the U.S. Consulate General in Rio de Janeiro organized, in coordination with the U.S. Department of State, Stanford University, the U.S. Embassy in Brasília and the U.S. Consulate General in São Paulo, the video-conference “Martin Luther King, Jr. – Legacy and Inspiration,” on February 24, 2015. Historian Clayborne Carson, founder and director of The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University, was the keynote speaker. One of the world top experts on the life and work of Dr. King, Dr. Carson was selected by Coretta Scott King to edit and publish the texts of her late husband, and produced the definitive critical edition in seven volumes of Dr. King’s speeches, sermons, correspondence, publications and unpublished works. Afro-Brazilian intellectual and activist Carlos Alberto Medeiros acted as moderator of the event. Mr. Medeiros translated into Portuguese the Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr., edited by Dr. Carson and published in Brazil by Zahar Editors, in 2014. The video-conference was transmitted to audiences in Rio, Brasília and São Paulo, with Portuguese translation provided by the U.S. Department of State, in Washington, DC.
The viewing party in Rio consisted of 60 academics, state and local government officials, lawyers, Afro-Brazilian activists and NGO leaders. Consul General John Creamer welcomed the guests and delivered introductory remarks. Dr. Carson stressed the uniqueness of Martin Luther King’s contributions to the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S. According to him, what distinguished Dr. King from the other main activists of the time was the fact that he had a global vision, and saw the fight for civil rights in the U.S. as part of an interconnected, worldwide struggle for basic human rights, finding inspiration in Mahatma Gandhi. In addition to the Civil Rights Movement, this global fight for basic human rights also included the decolonization of Africa, attempts at poverty eradication and pacifism, among other non-violent movements that aim at freedom, equality and inclusion.
Columnist Flávia Oliveira from “O Globo” newspaper attended the viewing party in Rio and, on February 25, devoted her column to the program. The video-conference with Dr. Carson was the flagstone event of the U.S. Consulate General’s commemorations of Afro-American History Month in 2015. The program also supported JAPER, the U.S.-Brazil Joint Action Plan to Promote Racial and Ethnic Equality.