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Edgardo Ortuño, Uruguay

July 28, 2015

First black member of parliament, undersecretary and interim minister of industry and energy, champion of Afro-Uruguayan culture—those are Edgardo Ortuño’s historic achievements in a country where the marginalization of Afro-descendants, comprising approximately 10 percent of Uruguay’s population, remains a major challenge.1

Ortuño, 45, who grew up in a working- class neighborhood in Montevideo, leveraged his years of student activism and teaching to become a champion of human rights and racial equality. By 29, he was elected to Parliament as a member of the leftist Frente...

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