Little Known Black History Fact: Joaquim Barbosa

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  • Joaquim Barbosa has been selected as Brazil’s first black Supreme Court Justice President. A veteran on the bench, Barbosa is currently presiding over a high-profile corruption trial involving a congressional cash-for-votes scheme. He became a Justice of the Supreme Court in 2003.

    Judge Barbosa was born in Paracatu in the state of Minas Gerais. He attended the Brazilian school system, then worked through law school as a typist and by cleaning one of the city courts. After working as a prosecutor, he moved forward to his goal of becoming a judge. He is fluent in three languages: French, English and German.

    In his first appointment, Judge Barbosa became the only black Supreme Federal Tribunal Justice Minister in Brazil.

    The judge has had his share of conflict on the bench. He has recently felt anger from several supporters of Brazil’s legal system when he convicted senior members of the government. It was a case called “The Big Monthly Allowance” or “Mensalao.” As a result, former chief of staff Jose Dirceu, the Workers' Party's former President, Jose Genoino, and Treasurer Delubio Soares were found guilty of corruption. The men were key aides to former President of the Supreme Court, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

    Brazil has the largest black population outside of Nigeria, though it is rare that blacks reach high offices.
     

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