Hernani Francisco da Silva

Ashoka Fellow
São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
Fellow Since 2002


This profile was prepared when Hernani Francisco da Silva was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2002.
The New Idea
Hernani is fighting the deeply embedded culture of racism in Brazil by first changing the way evangelical churches in Brazil perceive and understand black culture. As a member of the Evangelical Pentecostal church, he is introducing the theme of racism and human rights within churches with the goal of improving the socioeconomic situation of blacks in the country. Hernani's idea rejects proselytizing. Instead, he is promoting tolerance, debate, and awareness about racism to ensure blacks' right to practice their religion of choice, while maintaining their culture and identity. Hernani uses this point of entry to open spaces within religious spheres, typically closed to outsiders, to form social groups that value black culture. At the same time, he is introducing professional training courses and community housing projects to poor communities that have a majority of black evangelical church members who open up opportunities for economic development and inclusion previously unavailable. By joining the theme of racism to socioeconomic exclusion among members both within and outside the churches, Hernani is working to convince evangelical churches to make a commitment to improving the socioeconomic situation of their members.
Hernani is the only person dealing with the issue of racism among Pentecostal Evangelical Churches, and he is using this role to bridge the gap between blacks within the church, leaders in the "Black Movement" (the leading antiracism coalition in the country), and the government.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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