|General Vicente Guererro, 2nd President of Mexico|
A descendent of African slaves, Mexican President VICENTE GUERERRO was a great American president who abolished slavery in Mexico in 1829 - a third of a century before the USA. Herman Bennett's book “Africans in Colonial Mexico” sounds like one I must put on my reading list. ~Madison Reed
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Only a few of us Chicanos have read or heard of Vicente Guerrero, Mexico’s second president. He’s best remembered by our neighboring country’s school children for his words during those revolutionary times,”Mi patria es primero.” “My motherland comes first.”
Since the election of Barack Obama as U.S. President four years ago and his re-election in November, Guerrero is gaining extra recognition in Mexico and the United States as well, on two counts.
Mexico abolished slavery a third of a century before the U.S.First, he, not Obama, is the first man of African heritage to be elected president of a North American country. Historians write that Guerrero’s paternal grandfather was either a slave himself or descended from African slaves. Second, Guerrero abolished slavery in Mexico in 1829, a third of a century before the United States fought its bloody Civil War and the U.S. Congress passed the 13th Amendment to our Constitution.
Guerrero, the son of African-Mexican Pedro Guerrero, was assassinated two years after taking office. His mother Guadalupe was born to indigenous Mexican parents. Herman Bennett shares their story in his book “Africans in Colonial Mexico”. The first African slaves were brought to the New World before the Mayflower showed up in 1620. By the early 1600s the number of Africans dropped off at Mexican ports “collectively rivaled, if not outnumbered, Spaniards throughout New Spain,” writes Bennett. “At Veracruz, persons of African descent constituted 63 percent of the non-indigenous population.”
As African Americans pay tribute to their forebears this month, we should examine our southern neighbor for the prominent role Africans played there. Their contributions have been flimsily acknowledged and grossly under-appreciated in Mexico, say their historians.
Indoctrinated through a Eurocentric system of education much like our own, most Mexicans know little or nothing about “the third root” that blended with their Spanish and indigenous heritages. The closer you look at this historical image, the easier it becomes to realize how African influences significantly enriched it through art, music, language, cuisine and dance.
Story continues here.