Lélia Gonzalez was an intellectual and activist of the Movimento Negro (Black Movement) in Brazil and primarily responsible for the development of black feminism in Brazil. Gonzalez was born in 1935 and grew up to challenge the reality of social vulnerability by achieving her Ph.D. in Social Anthropology, confronting racism and sexism in the social sphere, and organizing political actions while producing scholarly works. She was a member of the Unified Black Movement (MNU), an organization that changed the history of Black activism in Brazil in the 1970s. Gonzalez is credited with connecting common experiences of black women from Latin America and bringing those experiences to a national debate about the condition of black women and colonization. She was one of the few black women in Brazil who had the opportunity to participate in international discussions of the feminist movement and connect with organized Black women in Latin America and in the African diaspora as a whole. From this experience, Gonzalez advocated the construction of an Afro-feminist agenda in Latin America since Black women, in different contexts, were subjected to similar conditions of inequality and discrimination. Gonzalez’ theory of the intersectionality of race, social class, and gender as articulated categories of social marginalization is still the subject of debate in Brazil in the studies of Black women.
In 2010, the government of the state of Bahia created the Lélia Gonzalez Award to encourage public policies towards women in Bahian municipalities.