On settler alternative worlds: Mimi Dwyer, ‘The Brazilian Town Where the American Confederacy Lives On’, Vice, 05/02/15

06Feb15

One day last spring, near an old rural cemetery in southern Brazil, a black man named Marcelo Gomes held up the corners of a Confederate flag to pose for a cell-phone photo. After the picture was taken, Gomes said he saw no problem with a black man paying homage to the history of the Confederate States of America. “American culture is a beautiful culture,” he said. Some of his friends had Confederate blood.

Gomes had joined some 2,000 Brazilians at the annual festa of the Fraternidade Descendência Americana, the brotherhood of Confederate descendants in Brazil, on a plot near the town of Americana, which was settled by Southern defectors 150 years ago. The graveyard is usually empty save for its caretaker or the odd worshipper drawn to its little brick chapel. On the April morning of the festa, a public-address system blaring the Confederate battle song “Stonewall Jackson’s Way” had interrupted the cemetery’s silence. Brazilians in ten-gallon hats and leather jackets called out greetings.

For miles around the graveyard, unfiltered sun beat down on sugarcane fields planted by the thousands of Confederates who had rejected Reconstruction and fled the United States in the wake of the Civil War—a voluntary exile that American history has more or less erased. Their scattered diaspora has gathered annually for the past 25 years. The party they throw, which receives funding from the local government, is the family reunion of the Confederados, one of the last remaining enclaves of the children of the unreconstructed South.

(With thanks to Alex Young)



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