Exhibit on President Vicente Guerrero and Afro-Mexicans at Southfield, Michigan Library for February 2015

An educational exhibit about the history, culture and contributions of Afro-Mexican President Vicente Guerrero and other Afro-Mexicans in the state of Guerrero will be on display at the Southfield Public Library in Southfield, Michigan, USA for the month of February 2015 as a tribute to Black History Month in that country. The library is located at 26300 Evergreen Road in Southfield.

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Entitled, “Pathways to Freedom in the Americas,” the this 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. The exhibit is currently on a state-wide tour of universities, schools, libraries and businesses. Since its premier in 2012, and has been on display at the Charles Wright Museum of African-American History, Chrysler World Headquarters, and Lear Corporation. To date, the exhibit and website have been viewed by over 30,000 persons.

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 The “Pathways to Freedom in the Americas” exhibit will be on display the Southfield Public Library in Southfield, Michigan, USA for the month of February 2015 as tribute to Black History Month.

This international educational project is the result of Ixtapa Zihuatanejo’s annual Celebration of Peace program with the United Nations. Every year, Ixtapa Zihuatanejo’s Peace Committee, comprised of public officials and community volunteers, develops an educational program in conjunction with various UN initiatives.

Back in 2011, the United Nations paid tribute to the contributions of Africans to the world. In support of that UN effort, Professor Candaleria Donají Méndez Tello of Universidad Autónoma de Guerrero, nidad de Turismo (Zihuatanejo’s toruism university), who is a member of the peace committee, launched the research for this educational project.  An expert in Afro-Mexican history, Professor Méndez Tello is co-founder of Mexico Negro, A.C. (Black Mexican Civic Association) that is a non-profit civil society created for the purpose of organizing the communities of African descent in Mexico.

Professor Méndez Tello and other members of the Peace Committee collaborated for two (2) years with universities, museums, libraries and civic groups in the states of Guerrero and Michigan to research and develop the educational exhibit and website about President Vicente Guerrero and other Afro-Mexicans in Guerrero.

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Professor Candaleria Donají Méndez Tello of Universidad Autónoma de Guerrero in Zihuatanejo led the research for this international exhibit and website.

Many people in Mexico and the world do not know that President Vicente Guerrero was of African and Indigenous decent. Historians refer to Vicente Guerrero 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 – 36 years before slavery was abolished in the United States (1865) and before it was abolished in Canada (1833).

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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.1 In Guerrero, there is a well-documented and sizable presence of Afro-Mexicans in the Costa Chica Region of the state. Africans were brought to Zihuatanejo by the Spanish.2   

“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 Méndez Tello.

The “Pathways to Freedom in the Americas” 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, the story of African-Americans escaping from slavery in the United States to freedom in Mexico, and African heritage as it continues to permeate Mexican culture—especially in the state of Guerrero. Click to obtain brochures about the exhibit: Pathways to Freedom Brochure – English.

You can take a short tour of the exhibit by clicking on the video below:

Sources:

  1. Aguirre Beltrán, Gonzalo. La Población Negra De México: Estudio Etnohistórico. 3rd. ed, Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán: Obra Antropológica. Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1989.
  2. FreedomPathways.org: Afro Mexicans in Guerrero: The Costa Chica Region

Related Articles:

A Short History of September 16 – Independence Day in Mexico

Shared Pathways in History – Mexico’s President Vicente Guerrero Abolishes Slavery in 1829

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