The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Task Force of Southfield, Michigan, USA, has recently established the “Vicente Guerrero Equality Award” to recognize individuals who work to create better harmony between the African-American and Mexican communities. President Vicente Guerrero of Mexico, who was of African-Indigenous descent, was a leader of freedom in the Americas.
The first recipients of this award are Dr. José Cuello and Dr. Talia Weltman-Cisneros, both from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. The award ceremony and dinner will take place on June 11, 2014.
The diversity award is in honor of President Vicente Guerrero (1782–1831), Mexico’s second president, and one of the country’s most important national heroes. Vicente Guerrero is referred to as the “George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln of Mexico,” indicating his great stature. He played a significant role in Mexico’s independence from Spain; he helped to write the new country’s constitution; and he abolished slavery during his presidential administration (1829), years before it was abolished in Canada (1833) and the USA (1865). The state of Guerrero, Mexico, is named in his honor.
Dr. José Cuello, one of this year’s recipients, is an associate professor of history in the Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies at Wayne State University. He is a specialist in colonial Latin America. His research and teaching include the formation of ethnic and racial identities resulting from the mixture of Europeans, Native Americans, and Africans. During the past thirteen years, Dr. Cuello has selflessly and consistently dedicated himself to the promotion of higher education on behalf of the Hispanic/Latino community through his research, teaching, and community involvement.
Dr. Talia Weltman-Cisneros, who is also being honored, is a professor in the Department of Classical and Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at Wayne State University. Her doctoral dissertation was based on research about the history and culture of Afro-Mexicans in the Costa Chica region of the country. In February 2014, Dr. Weltman-Cisneros travelled to Zihuatanejo, Guerrero, Mexico where she presented her research work to university students, residents and tourists.
Dr. José Cuello and Dr. Talia Weltman-Cisneros from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, USA, are the first recipients of the “Vicente Guerrero Equality Award” for their work in promoting diversity.
Both professors were consultants and researchers for the “Pathways to Freedom in the Americas” exhibit, sponsored by the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Task Force. The exhibit and website (www.FreedomPathways.org) depict a different aspect of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. It tells the story of African slaves arriving with the Spanish in Mexico, African slaves from the USA escaping south to freedom in Mexico, and African heritage as it continues to permeate Mexican culture—especially in the Costa Chica region of Guerrero.
Thanks to the work of these professors from Wayne State University, their institution has formed a collaborative arrangement with Universidad Autónoma de Guerrero in Zihuatanejo, Mexico to present research about the diversity of Mexico in other cities around the world. The universities also plan to exchange professors and students.
“Our mission is to advance the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, by providing leadership in diversity/inclusion, education, and youth development,” says Dorothy Dean, president of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Task Force.
“By establishing the ‘Vicente Guerrero Equality Award,’ we recognize the diversity of Mexico, we reach out to include Hispanics in our mission, and we help to educate youth throughout the American continent about the commonalities in our history and culture,” says Dean.
The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Task Force, Inc. is a non-profit, tax exempt organization. Its mission is to commemorate, celebrate and sustain the legacy and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. For more information, visit: www.mlktaskforcemi.org.
For more information about Ixtapa Zihuatanejo and the surrounding area, see: