Anielle Franco might have become a professional volleyball player. She could have become a journalist. But became famous as a politician who has gone on to inspire many from Brazil’s marginalised black community.
Time magazine has chosen Anielle, Brazil’s Racial Equality Minister, as one of their 12 ‘Women of the Year’ for 2022.
She is 38, the same age her sister Marielle Franco was in 2018 when she was assassinated. The killers of Marielle, who was a Rio de Janeiro councilwoman, are yet to be caught.
Anielle Franco, a growing voice for the country’s Black community, had never considered entering the world of politics until that fateful day, March 14, five years ago.
Many allege Marielle’s killing was related to her outspoken campaign against police violence, racism and corruption in the country.
Marielle was considered by many to be a pioneering politician, speaking up and giving prominence to issues impacting those from low-socioeconomic backgrounds in Brazil when she was killed in a drive-by murder alongside her driver, Anderson Gomes, after participating in a political rally.
Before Marielle’s death, Anielle was a volleyball player who had shown great potential – even gaining a scholarship and heading to the US for over a decade, where she would go on to study Journalism and English at two influential colleges.
Returning home after her sister’s murder, Anielle rallied thousands of people, calling for justice and an end to impunity against those from marginalised communities.
The younger sister began her activist ascent, founding the ‘Marielle Franco’s Institute‘ alongside her family “to fight for justice”.
According to Time, “her tragic family story, warm personality, and deft use of social media turned the once reserved (Anielle) Franco into an unlikely leader in Brazil’s Black rights movement.”
This year, Anielle was chosen to form part of Lula’s administration after he returned to power for a third mandate in early January to lead a country with an emboldened far-right which ransacked the headquarters of the three branches of Brazilian government on January 8.
Police killings were at record levels during his predecessor Bolsonaro’s tenure. Official data show that 84 percent of the victims in 2021 were Black. An estimated 60 percent of Black Brazilians experienced hunger during the same period.
Following her recognition, Anielle said on Twitter she was “very proud and moved to have been the first and only Brazilian” to be nominated by Time.
She also suggested that the recognition is not just for her but “belongs to all the black women in Brazil”.
Last week, it was decided that the Ministry of Justice, the Federal Police and the Prosecution Service of Rio de Janeiro will work together with the aim to deepen and conclude the investigation of Marielle’s murder, according to the newspaper Folha.
“I hope that for the next few days, for the next few months, we won’t have to wait another five years to find out who had Mari killed. This is one of our life missions,” Arielle told news outlet G1, referring to her sister by her nickname.