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 during the month of February 2018 at Eaton Corporation in Southfield, Michigan, USA. The display is part of the company’s tribute to Black History Month, which is celebrated in February in the USA and Canada. Entitled, “Pathways to Freedom in the Americas,” 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 premiered in 2012 at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, the world’s largest institution of its type, and now continues to tour the State of Michigan. To date, the exhibit and website have been viewed by over 30,000 persons.
The “Pathways to Freedom in the Americas” exhibit will be on display for employees in the cafeteria at Eaton’s Innovation Center and Administration and Marketing Building in Southfield, Michigan during February 2018 in celebration of Black History Month in the USA.
This research project and exhibition is the result of a friendship and collaboration between two women: Professor Candaleria Donají Méndez Tello, from the Costa Chica Region of Guerrero, and Professor Patricia Ann Talley, from Southfield, Michigan. Both live in Zihuatanejo, Guerrero. The professors 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.
Professor Candaleria Donají Méndez Tello of Universidad Autónoma de Guerrero in Zihuatanejo and Professor Patricia Ann Talley 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 descent. 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).
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 also brought to Zihuatanejo by the Spanish.
Afro-Mexicans are concentrated in the Costa Chica Region of the state of Guerrero.
“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 do not 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 Exhibition Brochure – English
Plans are currently underway to develop a similar exhibition in Mexico. You can take a short tour of the exhibit by clicking on the video below:
Eaton Corporation is a global technology leader in electrical products, systems and services for power quality, distribution and control, power transmission, lighting and wiring products; hydraulics components, systems and services for industrial and mobile equipment; aerospace fuel, hydraulic and pneumatic systems for commercial and military use, as well as transmission systems and powertrain components for trucks and cars, to achieve higher performance, fuel economy and safety. Visit: http://www.eaton.com/us/en-us/company.html
- Aguirre Beltrán, Gonzalo. La Población Negra De México: Estudio Etnohistórico. 3rd. ed, Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán: Obra Antropológica. Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1989.