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

  March 22, 2019

The Organization of American States (OAS) will celebrate, from March 25 to 29, the Second Annual Inter-American Week for People of African Descent in the Americas, to commemorate the significant contributions of persons of African descent to the societies of the hemisphere. 

Under the auspices of OAS Assistant Secretary General, Nestor Mendez, and the Chair of the Permanent Council, Ambassador Carlos Castillo of El Salvador, and with the theme “Remembering Slavery: the Power of the Arts for Justice,” the Organization will hold a number of activities that highlight the arts as a way to call attention to injustice and to empower victims and vulnerable communities.

The events will include:

From March 25-29, an Art Exhibition in the Marcus Garvey Hall of Culture at the Organization’s headquarters. The exhibit will include a 360 virtual reality photo exhibit as well as a display of art and books on people of African descent.

On March 25, the OAS Permanent Council will hold a special meeting to commemorate the International Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. The meeting will focus on how the arts have been used to address historical injustices and empower vulnerable communities. Panelists will include:

  • Epsy Campbell Barr, Vice President of Costa Rica;
  • Sandra Terena, Secretary for Policies to Promote Racial Equality in Brazil;
  • Carmen Inés Vásquez, Minister of Culture of Colombia;
  • Ancelma Perlacios Peralta, Senator of the Plurinational State of Bolivia; and
  • Bulmaro García Zavaleta, former Undersecretary for Development for Afro-Mexican Peoples, Secretariat for Indigenous Affairs and Afro-Mexican Communities of Guerrero State, Mexico.

As part of the agenda, a commemorative painting in honor of victims of slavery and the slave trade will be unveiled and displayed at the Organization’s headquarters.

On March 28, the OAS will host a forum on the subject “Remembering Slavery: the Power of the Arts for Justice” that will include prominent experts:

  • Sandra Terena, Secretary of Policies for the Promotion of Racial Equality in Brazil;
  • Urenna Best, Director, National Secretariat for the Development of Afro-Panamanians;
  • Bulmaro García Zavaleta, Former Assistant Secretary for the Development of Afro-Mexican Peoples of the Secretariat of Indigenous and Afro-Mexican Communities of the State of Guerrero; and
  • Claire Neson, Founder & President, Institute of Caribbean Studies, Washington DC

The Organization will also screen, throughout the week, a number of films and short documentaries submitted by member states that celebrate the achievements of Afro-descendants.

The agenda of the events is available here.

Press contact: Gina Ochoa (

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

WHEN: March 25-29, 2019

WHERE: Organization of American States

17th Street & Constitution Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20006

Reference: AVI-055/19