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US Creative Work of the Week: ‘Black Box’ tells the untold stories of pre-slavery Africans


By Kyle O'Brien | Creative Works Editor

May 29, 2019 | 3 min read

Zumbi dos Palmares College, which deems itself the only black college in Brazil, and J. Walter Thompson Brazil have developed the project ‘Black Box’ to help tell a history that is often not taught.

Before Africans became enslaved, they were experts in many fields, contributing to human history with important inventions, ranging from the telescope to setting the basis of cubism in art.

Since this isn’t taught in schools in Brazil, the project set to uncover this side of history in order to bring pride and knowledge to Afro-descendants, promote a historical correction and spread hidden stories about the cultural legacy of black pioneers.

“After 300 years of slavery in Brazil, it is urgent to change the mindset that permeates a hidden past, fundamental to regain self-esteem and correct crucial historical omissions that were the basis of racism in Brazil," said Danilo Janjacomo, creative director, and Talita Cardozo, head of art of JWT Brazil.

"We chose this path, through education, because we believe that is the right start. Correcting the past we can create a different future with more justice and opportunities."

African-Brazilian researchers, historians, journalists and teachers worked for 15,000 hours to create a 200-page book that brings black people’s cultural and historical legacy into the spotlight. The book includes 'black boxes' in translucent tracing paper that reveal important historical information and names of black heroes when the pages are turned over.

“When the idea of writing this book came up we didn’t realize it would have so many subjects," said Ariane Polvoni, editor in chief, and Thamara Pinheiro, content research and copywriter of the project. "But as we started searching, a whole world opened up in front of us with discoveries we never could imagine.

"The result is a fascinating material, filled with historical correction and stories that no one in Brazil ever knew of. Now, we deliver this book to black students with the hope to provide them with pride about their color, to restore their identity with a feeling of mission accomplished, but still, knowing that this issue is inexhaustible. And that’s why we’ll never stop discovering,”

For its thoughtful uncovering of history, The Drum’s readers voted this the US Creative of the Week.

See a film about the project by clicking on the Creative Works box below.

To stay up-to-date with all the advertising, design, and creative projects from around the globe, visit our Creative Works homepage.

Black Box by J Walter Thompson Brazil

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