Roberto Moraes, 1941-2014, !Presente!
Photograph Courtesy of Georgia Women’s Action for New Directions
(APN) ATLANTA — Roberto Moraes, a well-known progressive activist throughout the Metro Atlanta area, who championed causes of peace and justice, died Monday, February 24, 2014, in his native Sao Paulo, Brazil. He was 72.
Moraes suffered a stroke on February 13 while visiting his children in Brazil. He died eleven days later due to complications from the stroke.
“He received excellent care at a public hospital here in Sao Paulo,” Roberto’s daughter, Christina Moraes, said. “He would have wanted everyone to know that a public health system really can work!”
Moraes’s body was cremated per his wishes. His family plans to plant a tree with his ashes at their farm in Brazil.
Respected Activist and Leader
Moraes split his time between Atlanta and Brazil, but he made every minute count when he was here in town.
Moraes was involved in countless organizations in Metro Atlanta, including the Georgia Immigrants and Refugee Rights Coalition, Georgians for Alternatives for the Death Penalty, Georgia Women’s Action for New Directions, Stand for Peace, Atlanta Freethought Society, Feminist Women’s Health Center, local chapters of the Democratic Party, and other progressive groups over many years. Moraes was also a reader and ongoing community sustainer of Atlanta Progressive News for many years.
“Roberto was always true to his heart, true to his beliefs, even when it wasn’t easy to take a stand,” Janelle Yamarick of Feminist Women’s Health Center told APN.
Moraes was not just involved; he was a leader. From the several trips he took to Savannah, Georgia, to canvas during the campaign to halt the execution of Troy Davis in Georgia, to his steadfast attendance at the Stand for Peace Vigil in Atlanta’s Midtown neighborhood each Friday, Moraes was an example of true dedication.
It is no wonder that his social and political circle was expansive. His Facebook wall currently contains pages and pages of condolences expressed by progressives in Atlanta.
Known for his warm eyes, bright smile, dedication, and strong knowledge of the many progressive campaigns he worked on, Moraes naturally made newcomers feel at ease and helped bring new activists into the movement.
“Roberto Moraes played an important role in my first several months as the new director of Georgia WAND (Women’s Action for New Directions). He was persistent in his vision for Georgia WAND to begin a monthly sustainer program; and with this ever-present smile, became our first Sustaining member. As a servant for justice, Roberto was generous, dedicated, smart, humble and fun-loving. I will always be grateful that he supported me as a leader and a friend,” Becky Rafter, Executive Director of Georgia WAND, told APN.
“Roberto was a beautiful spirit who will be missed in Atlanta and Georgia. When I was just entering movement work in Atlanta, he was one of the people who made me comfortable, welcomed me, inspired me,” Xochitl Bervera, who worked on immigrants’ rights campaigns with Moraes, told APN.
It is “hard to think we will not see him on the corner again. But then again, he will be there,” Rev. Joyce Myers-Brown, a fellow peace activist, said.
A bicultural life
Moraes was born in Santa Cruz do Rio Pardo, a municipality in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on September 20, 1941.
At fifteen months, he contracted polio and would later move to Warm Springs, Georgia, for treatment before returning to Brazil to attend high school .
Moraes moved to the U.S. at age 24. He married Judith Lincoln on December 31, 1969 and they raised three daughters: Vicki, Christina (Chris), and Lia.
He graduated from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 1976 with a degree in Political Science, and would go on to work twelve years at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in Atlanta .
In 1990, the Moraes family moved to southern Brazil to manage the family farm after his father passed away. Roberto, who loved the U.S., moved back to Smyrna, Georgia, permanently in 1995.
Twice a year, Moraes visited Brazil, where he spent time with his many friends and family members and where he was an avid fan of Brazilian soccer, especially the national team and Sao Paulo Futebol Clube.
“He will be remembered for his honesty, generosity, and environmental consciousness. He tried to live his life with as little impact on the environment as possible, but left a big impact on all who knew and loved him,” Chris Moraes said.
Moraes is survived by his wife, Judy, their three daughters: Vicki, Christina and Lia and three grandchildren.