The Brazil Show is reporting that Brazilian civil rights leader, actor, painter and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Abdias Nascimento has died. He was 98 years old. An activist since the 1930s, Nascimento founded the Experimental Theater of the Negro (TEN) in 1944 and created the Institute for Research and Studies Afro Brazilian (Ipeafro) in 1981 to continue his fight for the rights of black people, especially in the areas of education and the culture. Nascimento was also a congressman, senator and secretary of defense and promotion of Afro-Brazilian populations of the state of Rio de Janeiro, 1991-1994.
He performed in Orfeu da Conceiçao, a play by Vinicius de Moraes that was later adapted into the motion picture Black Orpheus. He became a leader in Brazil's black movement and was forced into exile by the military regime in 1968 when he moved to Buffalo, N.Y. Nascimento held positions as a visiting professor at several universities in the United States, including the Yale School of Drama (1969–1971) and the University at Buffalo, the State University of New York, where he founded the chair in African Cultures in the New World, Puerto Rican Studies Program, in 1971.
Nascimento returned to Brazil in 1983 and was elected to the federal Chamber of Deputies. There his focus was on supporting legislation to address racial problems. In 1994 he was elected to the Senate and served until 1999. In 2004 he was nominated for the Nobel Prize for peace.
Nascimento recently appeared in Chapter 5 of the Brazil segment in PBS' Black in Latin America Series. The Root's editor-in-chief, Henry Louis Gates Jr., was the last person to interview Nascimento. Nascimento is survived by his wife, Elisa Larkin Nascimento, and three sons, two of them with his ex-wife, Brazilian actress Lea Garcia, who was his co-star in Black Orpheus.
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