Over 40% of slaves were shipped to Bahia, Brasil during the transatlantic trade. The slaves were not allowed to practice self-defense, so they disguised the art as a dance. Capoeira was seen as inspiration and hope for an escaped slave. Mestre Bimba is the first ever Master to create this art form, and created schools across Bahia that helped marginalized youth find alternative ways to live. Capoeira was outlawed because of the prestige and wealthy class viewing it as a form of promoting violence; however, after 1940, the first school was deemed a martial art and official sport.
It is a world wide art, practiced all over Europe, Japan, South America, and more recently, in the United States. In the US, especially Los Angeles, there are several academies that use this art as community work, where they service at risk youth and people in general. The longest standing academy is in Santa Monica under Mestre Amen Santos of Capoeira Batuque. They have been in Los Angeles for over 25 years. "It is good for the mind, body, and soul."
Below is a video that the UNICEF recently did that captures a good example of how it is being used to this day to help the oppressed communities.