An educational exhibit about the history, culture and contributions of Afro-Mexican President Vicente Guerrero and other Afro-Mexicans will be on display for the employees of the Lear Corporation World Headquarters in Southfield, Michigan during the month of May 2014. This educational exhibit is part of the corporation’s diversity program.
Entitled, “Pathways to Freedom in the Americas: Shared Experiences Between Michigan, USA and Guerrero, Mexico,” the exhibit is in English and Spanish and uses video, maps, photographs, art, and music to depict a different aspect of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. It tells the story of African-American slaves escaping south to freedom in Mexico; African heritage as it continues to permeate Mexican culture—especially in the Costa Chica region of Guerrero; the migration of Mexicans to Michigan, and the culture as it has manifested in Southwest Detroit.
The “Pathways”educational exhibit and its website, www.FreedomPathways.org, were organized by the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Task Force, Inc. in Southfield, Michigan and funded by a grant from the Michigan Humanities Council, the MGM Grand-Detroit Hotel, and others.
This traveling exhibit premiered in November 2012 at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, the world’s largest institution of its type, and has also been on display at Chrysler World Headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan. This unique exhibit about diversity is available for display in museums, universities, libraries or business institutions throughout Michigan. To date, the exhibit and website have been viewed by over 30,000 persons. Click to obtain a brochure about the exhibit:Pathways to Freedom Brochure – English.
The “Pathways to Freedom” exhibit will be on display for the employees of Lear Corporation World Headquarters in Southfield, Michigan, USA.
“This wonderful educational project is the result of a unique, international collaboration between civic organizations, universities, museums, language consultants, photographers, and others in the states of Michigan and Guerrero. It is historic!” says Dorothy Dean, president of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Task Force, Inc. “This educational project is about diversity, and we are proud to present it to the world.”
Many people in the world do not know that President Vicente Guerrero of Mexico was of African and Indigenous descent. Historians refer to him as the George Washington and Abraham Lincoln of Mexico, indicating this great man’s stature. He was a general commanding Mexico’s liberation army during much of its independence movement in the early 19th century and he helped to write Mexico’s Constitution. He assumed his country’s presidency in 1829, and he abolished slavery under his administration – thirty-six years before slavery was abolished in the United States (1865) and before it was abolished in Canada (1833).
Vicente Guerrero, the second president of Mexico was of African and Indigenous descent. He is a great national hero.
Many people also do not realize that there are substantial numbers of Black people in Mexico. Research shows that during colonial times, 1521–1821, Africans and Afro-mestizos (people of mixed African and European/or Indigenous heritage), outnumbered the Spanish by up to 3 to 1 in Mexico. In Guerrero, there is a well-documented and sizable presence of Afro-Mexicans in the Costa Chica region of the state.
“The Black roots of Mexico are not explained in school textbooks or in our universities, therefore, still today, many of my countrymen and people around the world don’t know the importance of it. The Black presence in Mexico is manifested in music, dance, poetry, verses, oral tradition, gastronomy and more,” says Professor Candaleria Donají Méndez Tello of the Universidad Autónoma de Guerrero in Zihuatanejo, who led the research on this project for her state.
You can take a short tour of the exhibit by clicking on the video below:
The Lear Corporation, headquartered in Southfield, Michigan, USA, is a Fortune 500 company, engaged in the business of manufacturing and distribution of automotive seating and electrical distribution systems. The company has 221 manufacturing facilities in 36 countries across the globe with a diverse workforce of 122,000 employees world-wide, and recorded aggregate global sales of US$ $16.2 billion in 2014.
The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Task Force, Inc. is a non-profit, tax exempt, organization formed in 1985 in the City of Southfield, Michigan to advance the legacy of Dr. King, a Nobel Peace Laureate. It provides leadership in diversity/inclusion, education, and youth development. For more information about the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Task Force, Inc., visit: www.mlktaskforcemi.org.
- Aguirre Beltrán, Gonzalo. La Población Negra De México: Estudio Etnohistórico. 3rd. ed, Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán: Obra Antropológica. Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1989.
- www.FreedomPathways.org: Afro Mexicans in Guerrero: The Costa Chica Region
For more information about Ixtapa Zihuatanejo and the surrounding area, see: