The paper seeks a critical reappropriation of constitutional history for an interpretation of the Brazilian Constitution of 1988 that is capable of confronting the constitutive racial inequalities of Brazilian social formation. The official narrative has erased the impact of the quilombos’ experience in their struggle for freedom, equality, and access to land. In this sense it is fundamental to face the past. The problem of the effectiveness of rights is confronted by the tension over the narrative of constitutional history from a displacement based on the historical-legal matrix produced by Afro-Brazilian diasporas. The trajectory of the quilombos as struggles for autonomy is rescued, since the abstract, universal and open character of the fundamental rights needs a historical rootedness in the movements of affirmation of equality, freedom and citizenship, by reshaping constitutional principles on a more pluralistic and democratic basis.