By Patrícia Villela Marino
Born on October 13, 1930, José Gregori lived 92 years in favor of justice, democracy and human rights. Although his birthday is a reason to celebrate the life of an extraordinary man, this year marks a change, the passing of a giant. Gregori left us last month, but his legacy remains eternal in the hearts and minds of Brazilians.
Gregori brought together the Academy, faith and knowledge. He united what seemed to be separate in the service of the same goal: to make his humanism and intelligence beacons to pave the way for social justice. Moved by compassion, he crossed past and present political polarizations to, within the limits of his dispositions, make this Agape love a reality.
Graduated in Law from the University of São Paulo, José Gregori served as São Paulo’s Secretary of Public Security and, later, as Minister of Justice, always with a focus on human rights and the implementation of fairer policies for all. His balanced and considered approach has earned him great respect, even in an often divided political landscape.
José Gregori advised and collaborated on different occasions with my work at the head of the Humanitas360 Institute. In 2017, his participation was fundamental in the activities of the Coalition for Changing the Paradigm on Sentence and Prison. Generously, he accepted our invitation to participate in workshops and conversation circles, in which he emphasized that the prison situation in Brazil is a symptom of a civilizational deficit and low regard for human rights.
This contribution was decisive for the creation of H360’s Entrepreneurship Behind and Beyond Bars program, which includes social cooperative projects for imprisoned women and LAB360, which provides computers for those incarcerated to study and carry out virtual social visits. In these actions, we seek to put into practice what we learned from José Gregori: it is not enough to just address the consequences of crime and social injustice, but mainly its causes, such as inequality of access to the job market and the education system.
In other words, he was to all of us a beacon of integrity and compassion. His involvement with us was not only professional, but personal. He truly believed in each person as an individual capable of change and growth.
It is with a feeling of deep loss, but also of deep gratitude, that we say goodbye to José Gregori. Today, on what would have been his 93rd birthday, we celebrate an extraordinary life, lived in service to others. Rest in peace, friend and mentor: your light will continue to guide us on the path of justice and humanity.
José Gregori is survived by a loving family, countless friends, and a nation that is infinitely better because of his existence and service. Out of respect for his memory and legacy, the Humanitas360 Institute and other organizations with which he was involved will continue to work tirelessly to realize his vision of a more just and humane Brazil.
Dear Minister, I will greatly miss your compassion, technical knowledge and charm. I hope to meet you again in eternity.