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Culture Tuesdays: Afro-Uruguayans


Afro-Uruguayans contributions to the development of Uruguay

After Uruguays final slave abolition in 1842, Afro-Uruguayans demanded full civic and legal equality. As part of their response, they created the most active Black press anywhere in Latin America.   Between 1870 and 1950, black journalists and scholars published at least twenty-five newspapers and magazines in Montevideo (Uruguays capital) and other cities.

The country’s economic and educational achievements reflected the success of the Afro-Uruguayan journalism in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. By 1913, Uruguay had the highest literacy rates and highest number of newspaper readers anywhere in Latin America. Educational reforms of the 1870’s and early 1900’s made Uruguay a regional leader in educational achievement.

Afro-Uruguayans formed social clubs, political clubs, dancing groups, recreational groups, literary societies, drama societies, and civic organizations. Afro-Uruguayans culture is still seen throughout the politics of the country, and strides are being made to preserve the Afro-Uruguayans exceeding contributions to society. In 2006, Afro-Uruguayan Congressman Edgardo Ortuño introduced the creation of a national holiday, the “Day of Candombe”, Afro-Uruguayan Culture, and Racial Equality.

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