I am watching this really good series on PBS, presented by Henry Louis Gates, called Black in Latin America. Fascinating stuff. Last night I saw the episode on Mexico and Peru.
It’s no secret that Hispanic people generally deny their African roots or downplay the African heritage in their culture, but what was pleasantly surprising was the way African traditions are embraced by the few Mexicans and Peruvian people who live in these respective countries.
Even better, is the real influence of African peoples in these countries.Here are some things I learned from watching this series.
Lima, Peru was once called black Lima, due to its high percentage of black peoples.Its most celebrated painter is Pancho Feirro, a mulatto. Its most sacred shrine, the Lord of the Miracles, is inspired by the painting of the same name by an Angolan slave in the 17th century.
MEXICO: We know of Emiliano Zapatos, but how about Yanga, Vicente Guerrero and Jose Murelos, all revolutionaries during the Mexican War of Independence?
Yanga Gaspar waged a slave rebellion against the Spanish in the late 16th century and won. He established the first free Palenque colony in Vera Cruz, Mexico, which is currently named after him. Read More
the Spanish agreed to parley. Yanga’s terms were agreed to, with the additional provisos that only Franciscan priests would tend to the people, and that Yanga’s family would be granted the right of rule. In 1618 the treaty was signed and by 1630 the town of San Lorenzo de los Negros de Cerralvo was established.
Jose Morelos, a meztico (mulatto), became the leader of the rebellion against Spain.More
In 1813 Generalisimo Morelos called the first congress of free states, the result of which was Mexico’s Declaration of Independence. During the proclamation of Mexico’s first Constitution, Morelos was appointed as one head of an executive triumvirate.
Vicente Guerrero, another prominent Meztico (mulatto), became the president of Mexico, ending slavery in Mexico, some 30 years before the end of slavery in the U.S.A. Read more about Guerrero.
Though inspired by the Constitution of the United States, he went further than that document. He ordered the immediate release of every slave in Mexico. The estimated number of Negro slaves was 10, 595 blacks and 1050 mulattoes, with Guerrero’s native state containing the largest number . The remainder were Indians and half-breeds, some of whom had a Negro strain
You can read more about the influence of black people in Mexico here.