Allison Jones finds the ignorance especially worrisome. His mother, Judith McKnight Jones, wrote one of the first histories of the confederados, and even today the family puts out a regular bulletin of news about their ancestral community.
"A lot of them have integrated into local habits," said Jones, who understands that, and says he considers Brazil "my country." Yet, he added, "a lot of them don't have any idea that they're descendants" of American Southerners.
The annual festival shows just how much the Americans have integrated over generations. Black beans and rice and other Brazilian foods now accompany the traditional Confederate fare. Sometimes young people will steal away from the crowds to listen to a soccer match. And many spouses and children of confederados are bronze-skinned and dark-eyed. In America they would be considered mulatto or black.
"I am a Brazilian and I love Brazil, but, I feel American somehow, some way, I don't know why," Thomas Steagall said. "I love Brazil. I love America. It's like one of my relatives used to say: Brazil is my mother country, but America is my grandmother country."
Source: © Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company
John C. Rigdon