Mexico – the US’s southern neighbor – once included much of the southwestern portion of the US. In 1822, Vicente Guerrero (the second president of the Republic), abolished slavery, though it was not until 1829 that slavery actually ceased to exist there. In 1836 Texas declared itself independent of Mexico and in 1845 it was annexed to the US. US President Polk demanded even more Mexican territory, a demand that lead to the Mexican-American War in 1846 in which Mexico City was occupied by US troops. As a result of the Treaty of Guadeloupe Hidalgo of 1848, Mexico ceded not only Texas, but also California, Colorado, Utah, and most of New Mexico to the US. Moreover, in 1853, Mexico sold Arizona and the remainder of New Mexico to the US for ten million dollars in what became known as the Gadsen Purchase. The vast majority of Mexicans consider themselves to be Mestizos (a term generally meant to be a mixture of White and Indian populations). Recently, however, a Black consciousness has arisen (“La Tercer Raiz” = the third root) and many Mexicans of partial African descent now refer to themselves as Afro-Mestizos; that is, a race formed from the combination of Black, White, and Native American elements. These people are of particular interest to the BLAC FOUNDATION. Although Veracruz is known as an area where such a combination thrived, it is in the Costa Chica of Guerrero State and neighboring Oaxaca where these Afro-Mestizos more closely resemble their Black North American counterparts. In particular, one should note the physical racial traits of a considerable portion of the inhabitants of Tapextla and Ciruelo in Oaxaca as well as (to a lesser extent) those of San Nicolás and Cuaji in Guerrero. One should also mention here the Black population of Coahuila, descendants of the Black Seminoles and others who settled in Mexico, under the leadership of John Horse, in a town called Nacimiento de Los Negros. Other sources of Black Mexicans include Ethiopian soldiers who came to Mexico during the time of Maximillian. Famous Mexican Afro-Mestizos include 4 presidents (including Guerrero) and there are two states and 17 cities named after peoples of Afro-Mestizo origin. There were as many as a half million descendants of enslaved Africans in Mexico in 1810 constituting some 10% of the Mexican population; but by 1895 they were almost completely blended into the Mestizo population. At the beginning of the 21 century, perhaps only 1% of the population has any visible traits of their African heritage. For more information about Afro-Mestizos and their culture see Dr. E. Powe’s forthcoming Black Songs & Dances of the Tropics: Book II: Central & South America.

La Negra