He started his journalism career at Diário de Notícias (English: News Daily) in 1929. In 1949 he founded the newspaper Tribuna da Imprensa (English: Press Tribune).
Starting his political career in 1947, Lacerda was elected to the legislative chamber (city council) of the city of Rio de Janeiro. In 1950 he was elected a UDN party representative for the state of Rio in the Chamber of Deputies. He became well-known for his opposition of the government of President Getúlio Vargas, even demanding Vargas' overthrow.
He survived an assassination attempt in August 1954 which became known as the crime of Rua Tonelero. The attempt is widely believed by historians to have been made by men acting under the orders of Gregório Fortunato, O Anjo Negro (Portuguese for "The Black Angel"), a Black man who was the head of Vargas' personal bodyguards. Brazilian Air Force Major Rubens Vaz was killed in the attempt and Lacerda was slightly injured. This sparked a political crisis that culminated with the suicide of Vargas.
Lacerda was re-elected to the Chamber of Deputies later in 1954 with the most votes of any candidate. He also opposed the government of President Juscelino Kubitschek de Oliveira.
Lacerda was elected governor of Guanabara State (Rio de Janeiro city) in 1960. His administration was praised for his efforts to solve some chronic problems of Rio such as water services, public transportation and housing.
An opinionated and controversial politician, Lacerda was involved in the crisis of the resignation of President Jânio Quadros in 1961 and conspired against the presidency of João Goulart. Hoping to be elected president in the 1965 elections, Lacerda initially supported the military coup d'état of 1964 and was nominated the UDN candidate. Since the military was not willing to give up power, the 1965 elections were cancelled and Lacerda began to oppose the regime. In 1968, due to his efforts to restore democracy in Brazil by allying with his old enemies Kubitschek and Goulart, Lacerda was arrested for a brief period and stripped of his right to run for political office for 10 years. After that, he retired from politics and resumed his journalism and publishing career. In 1977 he died suddenly in Rio de Janeiro.
He is also mentioned in the book, "Child of the Dark", The Diary of Carolina Maria de Jesus
José Sette Câmara Filho
Rafael de Almeida