Sociologist and activist (1946-2013)
Nicolae Gheorghe was born on November 12, 1946 in Roşiorii de Vede, the third child after two older sisters, Gheorghiţa and Silvia. The father (Anghel) came from a snail family, and the mother (Floarea) was the descendant of a family of hearths and fiddlers.
- 𝟏𝟗𝟔𝟒: He finishes military high school and enrolls in the Military School in Sibiu, which he interrupts due to an unfortunate accident.
- 𝟏𝟗𝟔𝟖: After the army, he entered the Sociology Department of the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Bucharest. He finishes as head of promotion, with an average of 10.50 (10 for exam results and an additional 50 hundredths for exceptional merits in his work as a student leader); During college he is the president of the communist student association.
After college, he is employed at the Center for Sociological Research in Bucharest, Rural Systematization Department. He begins his search, searching for the answer to the question that has always accompanied him: “Who am I?”
- 𝟏𝟗𝟕𝟑: He makes his first field visits to the Roma farmers from Făgăraş County. He discovers with fascination people who are proud to be Roma, as opposed to assimilated Roma such as those from his own family, who hide their origins. Driven by their pride, he begins to assume his ethnic identity.
- 𝟏𝟗𝟖𝟐: He sends to Free Europe, under the pseudonym Alexandru Danciu, a letter in which he highlights the racism and xenophobia of the communist regime’s policy, in which the Roma become the go to guilty. He also denounced the abuses of the militia, which descended with dogs, at dawn, in communities, assaulting women and children – or beating young people, to make them confess to crimes they did not commit.
- 𝐌𝐚y 𝟏𝟗𝟗𝟎: He brings together Roma associations already formed into an umbrella “union”: the Roma Ethnic Federation. He is one of the secretaries of the federation together with Vasile Burtea, Vasile Ionescu and Ivan Gheorghe. Also in 1990, following the devastation by the miners of the Roma neighborhoods in Bucharest from June 14-15, he persuaded the Commission for Security and Cooperation in Europe to include in its Declaration the Roma issue in terms of security, which brings criticism of the Romanian state for denigration of Romania’s image abroad.
- 𝟏𝟗𝟗𝟏 – 𝟏𝟗𝟗𝟑: He is vice president of the IRU, the International Roma Union, an association to which he has remained loyal for many years, despite personal attacks over time. The communication with some leaders of this party starts from the communist period, together with Ion Cioabă and the younger Florin Cioabă.
- 𝟏𝟗𝟗𝟑: He receives the Bruno Kreisky Prize in Vienna for his services to human rights in Europe. He co-founded the Romani CRISS association with people of his generation, but also with young people who worked with him at that time. The Roma Ethnic Federation, the Gypsy Research Center of the Sorbonne University and the Institute of Sociology of the Romanian Academy are the institutions that contribute to the establishment and construction of Romani CRISS. The organization becomes one of the most representative for Roma rights in Romania and in Europe and, at the same time, the school of activism for new generations of Roma activists.
- 𝟏𝟗𝟗𝟓: He is launching a campaign to adopt the term Roma. This campaign was a reaction against a Memorandum of the Romanian Government applied through an internal circular sent to all institutions. He proposed officializing the term “gypsy” because the term Roma was damaging Romania’s image. That year, the reaction was mainly against the abusive and non-transparent way in which the decision was made: with a Roma deputy in parliament at the time, with a council of national minorities, no public consultation was organized. A second Government Memorandum from 2000 states that the term Roma is appropriate.