University of São Paulo Law School. Created in 1827, it is one of the oldest universities in the country (together with Law School from Recife). Known as SanFran, the institution is located at Largo São Francisco, central region of São Paulo, in an area occupied since 1647 for the Igreja e Convento de São Francisco. There are a lot to talk about this very traditional institution in the city, too much has already been told by those who have the power to tell their stories.
Yet, we must mention this territory and everything that is there and has been there, and how the bodies that passed by along different moments of the city’s life relate to this territory.
There was a time when the bells of Igreja de São Francisco worked as an alarm to the beginning of an auction that took place in Ladeira da Memória. Yes, an auction, but not an ordinary one, this one aimed to sell enslaved people. That is right, the bells of a church announced the time to sell people. As time went on, its importance to the region began to change, specially after the opening of the University, which turned that place into a great place for the elite’s education that were consolidated in the country. The uses of the public spaces then began to change, cafés were opened where the students could eat and discuss freedom, the republic and human rights, while a few streets away there was a prison, a court, a pillory and, further on, a gallows. In records left in chronicles and diaries made by students, there is information that was tried to be erased from the history of São Paulo, which tell us about one of the greatest characters in the city: Maria Punga, a free, black woman who lived during the 19th century and who was an entrepreneur, owner of her own café, one of the first in the city. A story presented as an image and narrative in the white hands of immigrants, hiding the great work of black hands on plantations and black businesses, such as Maria Punga, in the pulse of this territory called São Paulo. Speaking of hands, minds, and black power, in the construction of São Paulo society, still in relation to Largo São Francisco, we could not fail to mention the great Dr. Luis Gama, one of the greatest, if not the greatest, lawyer in the history of Brazil. Often, however, it is not said that he was not allowed to receive his degree or study as a regular student at the institution. Gama attended the classes only as a listener, and even so, he acted in several cases, making more than 500 people free from slave labor. After one hundred years of his death, the university awarded him the degree, as a tribute to his history.
Largo São Francisco, 95 – Centro, São Paulo – SP, 01005-010.
School of Law founded after the independence of Brazil in 1827, now part of the University of São Paulo.
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