During these times, from 1861 to 1865, the United States was engaged in a civil war over human slavery. Eleven Southern states grouped to form the Confederate States of America and seceded from the country. Mexico had abolished slavery back in 1829, so when the U.S. won the Mexican-American War (1846-48) and seized half of its country, this expanded human slavery into the highly profitable cotton areas in the South and Southwest. Southern whites had invested large amounts of money in human slavery and believed that the emancipation of African-Americans would destroy their economy. The South lost the war and human slavery was finally abolished in the U.S. in 1865.

1570 Gasper Yanga / New Afrikan Maroon Independent Settlements /Rebellion Veracruz Mexico

The heritage of Africans in Mexico after Christopher Columbus is a rarely explored topic in the history books of the Americas. Gaspar Yanga is one of the neglected figures within African history in the Americas. He was the founder of the town Yanga, located in the Veracruz region of Mexico, between the Port of Veracruz and Córdoba. It is among the first free African settlements in the Americas after the start of the European slave trade.

While the available official reports regarding the history of Gaspar Yanga is sorely lacking, local lore reports that Yanga escaped slavery from the region of the Nuestra Senora de la Concepcion plantation in 1570. Regional lore also provides that Yanga was a prince stolen from a royal family of Gabon, Africa. The word “Yanga” has origins in many regions of West and Central Africa, including the Yoruba regions in Nigeria where the word means “pride”.

Between 1570 and 1609, Yanga led his followers into the mountains located in the vicinity of Pico de Orizaba (Citlaltépetl, or “star mountain”, the highest mountain in Mexico), the Cofre de Perote, Zongolica and Olmec regions. The Olmec controlled this region during its empire over the region (1200 BC to 400 BC), which included the jurisdiction of the current nation of Mexico.

By 1600, it is reported that the Yanga maroon settlement, or palenques, was joined by Francisco de la Matosa and his group of African maroons. All of this occurred before the independence of Mexico from the Spanish crown.

 

Puebla Mexico 1862 Chicano and New Afrikan/Gullah/ Seminole Nation Defeat French Army led By Napoleon Cinco De Mayo May 5 1862

In 1861, the 1st year of the U.S. Civil War, the Secretary of State for the Confederate States of America Robert Tombs sent John Pickett as his envoy to Mexico City. Since Union forces had blockaded southern ports, Pickett’s mission was to persuade the government of President Benito Juarez to allow slave produced cotton from the U.S. south to be transported overland and loaded onto ships anchored in Mexican ports. The cotton was to eventually be sold to various European countries to help support the Confederate war effort. Despite persistent attempts to gain Mexico’s approval the Mexican government refused and John Pickett’s mission failed. To compound Pickett’s failure and disappointment prior to his return empty handed to the U.S. south, he was thrown into jail in Mexico City after getting into a fist fight with a Union sympathizer there. U.S. rulers have been careful to exclude this event and any acknowledgement of the mutually beneficial history that Mexican and African people share.

The destiny of Africa’s scattered people has been impacted and decided in more countries than popular history has acknowledged. Mainstream history does not reveal how Africans benefited from France’s humiliating defeat at Puebla, Mexico on May 5, 1862. Cinco de Mayo is a fitting and spirited annual celebration which reminds us of Mexico’s heroic, although short-lived victory over Napoleon 3rd’s larger and better-armed forces.

Black people should also celebrate the French army’s defeat at the hands of Mexican forces for two reasons. First, Napoleon’s generals, who commanded the French invaders, supported the slave-holding Confederacy in the U.S. Second, Benito Juárez, the president of Mexico at that time, gave land to anti- colonial Black-Seminoles.

It was President Benito Juárez who gave land to a faction of the Black-Seminole freedom fighters that had carried on a long and courageous war of liberation against Spanish and U.S. colonizers. It was certainly in the interest of Blacks on both sides of the Rio Grande, that the Juárez government which had befriended rebellious slaves, and whose predecessor had outlawed slavery, survive Napoleon’s invasion and continue in office.

The Black Seminoles, exiled from their Florida strongholds, were forced to continue their struggle for freedom on the Western frontier. In Oklahoma, the Government put them under the authority of the Creek Indians, slave owners who tried to curb their freedom; and white slave traders came at night to kidnap their women and children. In 1850, a group of Black Seminoles and Seminole Indians escaped south across Texas to the desert badlands of northern Mexico. They established a free settlement and, as in Florida, began to attract runaway slaves from across the border. In 1855, a heavily armed band of Texas Rangers rode into Mexico to destroy the Seminole settlement, but the blacks and Indians stopped them and forced them back into the U.S. The Indians soon returned to Oklahoma, but the Black Seminoles remained in Mexico, fighting constantly to protect their settlement from the marauding Comanche and Apache Indians!

The Underground Road Went South to Mexico , Texas , Florida But going north across the border has not always been the objective. More than 100 years ago, for example, Americans were escaping into Mexico, Slaves in the US famously took the underground railroad north into free states and Canada, but a similar path existed to the south into Mexico. Slavery was abolished in Mexico in 1829 by Mexican President Vicente Guerrero, who was of mixed descent, including African heritage. Bacha-Garza says her research indicates that about 3,000 slaves escaped across the river in the 1850s. MICHIGAN The Underground Railroad also ran south—not back toward slave-owning states but away from them to Mexico, which began to restrict slavery in the 1820s and finally abolished it in 1829, some thirty-four years before Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

Although Mexico outlawed slavery, Texas, then a colony of Mexico, held onto its slaves. In fact, slavery was one of the causes of the revolution that led to Texas’s independence in 1836. Texas was admitted to the United States in 1845 as a slave state and the number of slaves there increased exponentially.

Most of the slaves who escaped to Mexico came from Texas, and to a lesser extent Louisiana, Kelley notes, just as a preponderance of those who escaped northward came from places neighboring northern states. The journey to freedom in Mexico, even from Texas, was “long and difficult and dangerous,” Kelley says. Just as there are no firm figures about how many enslaved people escaped to Canada—estimates range from 30,000 to 100,000—no reliable figures exist concerning how many escaped to Mexico. A Texas Ranger in the nineteenth century put the number at four thousand but “quantifying this is never going to happen,” Kelley says.

The Underground Railroad that led to Mexico had no known analogue to Harriet Tubman, a former slave, who in a dozen journeys led some seventy people to freedom, but Texas had its own liberators. “There was complicity on the part of Tejanos [Hispanic Texans] and some of the Germans” who had settled in Texas, Kelley says.

Haki Kweli Shakur 5-5-52ADM August Third Collective NAIM NAPLA MOI

 

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