Mexicoâ€™s black president abolished slavery before U.S. CivilÂ War
Mexicoâ€™s second president, Vicente GuerreroÂ
Only a few of us Chicanos have read or heard of Vicente Guerrero, Mexicoâ€™s second president. Heâ€™s best remembered by our neighboring countryâ€™s school children for his words during those revolutionary times,â€ťMi patria es primero.â€ť â€śMy motherland comes first.â€ť
Since the election of Barack Obama as U.S. President four years ago and his re-election in November, Guerrero is gaining extra recognition in Mexico and the United States as well, on two counts.
Mexico abolished slavery a third of a century before the U.S.
First, he, not Obama, is the first man of African heritage to be elected president of a North American country. Historians write that Guerreroâ€™s paternal grandfather was either a slave himself or descended from African slaves. Second, Guerrero abolished slavery in Mexico in 1829, a third of a century before the United States fought its bloody Civil War and the U.S. Congress passed the 13th Amendment to our Constitution.
Guerrero, the son of African-Mexican Pedro Guerrero, was assassinated two years after taking office. His mother Guadalupe was born to indigenous Mexican parents. Herman Bennett shares their story in his book â€śAfricans in Colonial Mexicoâ€ť. The first African slaves were brought to the New World beforeÂ the Mayflower showed up in 1620. By the early 1600s the number of Africans dropped off at Mexican ports â€ścollectively rivaled, if not outnumbered, Spaniards throughout New Spain,â€ť writes Bennett. â€śAt Veracruz, persons of African descent constituted 63 percent of the non-indigenous population.â€ť
As African Americans pay tribute to their forebears this month, we should examine our southern neighbor for the prominent role Africans played there. Their contributions have been flimsily acknowledged and grossly under-appreciated in Mexico, say their historians.
The Third Root
Indoctrinated through a Eurocentric system of education much like our own, most Mexicans know little or nothing about â€śthe third rootâ€ť that blended with their Spanish and indigenous heritages. The closer you look at this historical image, the easier it becomes to realize how African influences significantly enriched it through art, music, language, cuisine and dance.
As Mexicoâ€™s second president following the toppling of Spanish rule, Guerrero, a gallant Mexican Revolutionary War general, was sometimes mocked as â€śel Negro Guerrero.â€ť But today the state he served carries his name. His family settled in Tixtla, a town 100 kilometers inland from Acapulco, a key portÂ of entry for slave ships which consequently has a large African population.
During Mexicoâ€™s War of Independence, Guerreroâ€™s father Pedro, a supporter of the Spanish rulers, asked his son for his sword to present to the viceroy of New Spain as a sign of good will and surrender. Vicente refused, proclaiming, â€śThe will of my father is for me sacred, but my Motherland is first.â€ť His quote became the motto of its southern Mexican state of later named Guerrero in his honor.
Andy Porras, a retired teacher and publisher, has been a contributing columnist with Hispanic Link News Service for nearly three decades. He resides in Sacramento, Calif., and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
“The word-nerd writer in me has never forgotten that it was Playboy’s Hugh Hefner who in 1949 coined and minted the term ‘lifestyle,’ a concept now indispensible to speakers of English.”
— Al Young
Â© Playboy Enterprises
PLAYBOY | Maiden Issue, December 1953
Â© Playboy Enterprises
Playboy bunny Naturi Naughton
From Santa Monica, New Orleans, New Mexico, to the Netherlands, South Africa, Congo, Italy, France, Brazil, Russia — and all around the world
“Stand By Me” (Â© Ben E. King, Jerry Lieber, Mike Stoller); inspired by the spiritual, “Lord, Stand By Me”
Je suis belle, Ă´ mortels! comme un rĂŞve de pierre,
Et mon sein, oĂą chacun s’est meurtri tour Ă tour,
Est fait pour inspirer au poĂ¨te un amour
Eternel et muet ainsi que la matiĂ¨re.
Â Je trĂ´ne dans l’azur comme un sphinx incompris;
J’unis un coeur de neige Ă la blancheur des cygnes;
Je hais le mouvement qui dĂ©place les lignes,
Et jamais je ne pleure et jamais je ne ris.
Â Les poĂ¨tes, devant mes grandes attitudes,
Que j’ai l’air d’emprunter aux plus fiers monuments,
Consumeront leurs jours en d’austĂ¨res Ă©tudes;
Car j’ai, pour fasciner ces dociles amants,
De purs miroirs qui font toutes choses plus belles:
Mes yeux, mes larges yeux aux clartĂ©s Ă©ternelles!
Â Iâ€™m beautiful, mortals, like a dream of stone
And my breast, where each man shatters,
Inspires in poets, one by one,
A love eternal and mute as matter.
Iâ€™m enthroned in the blue, like a sphinx of enigmasâ€”
Heart of snow to the swanâ€™s sheer whiteness I keep,
Hate movement, in which lines amass,
Never laugh, never weep.
Poets before my grand attitudes
(Which I take from the proudest monuments)
Wear out their days in studious moods.
I keep those lovers submissive, bent
With my eyes, my bright eyes, those mirrors changing
All to beauty, and in beauty ranging.
Â© Jack Foley
JACK FOLEY’S NOTE TO AL YOUNG
This link will get you the French and some English versions of Baudelaire’s terrific poem, â€śLa BeautĂ©â€ť:
Hard to match Baudelaire’s wonderful opening line, “Je suis belle, Ă´ mortels! comme un rĂŞve de pierre,” with its rhyme of “belle” and “mortels”: “I am beautiful, O mortals! like a dream of stone.” The translations offered at the website (including the first, literal one) seemed clumsy and, when rhymed, contained a lot of inverted language. I decided to make an effort too and wrote this version this morning.
Â Earlier today, I bought a sandwich at Noah’s. The clerk there told me that, when she wasn’t clerking, she worked with a troupe of fire eaters! Circus stuff. I told her I was a poet: it was my job to keep as much fire in my mouth as I could.
April 3, 2013
Â Listen to ‘Have We Met Before?’– the story of QuĂ©bec photographer FranĂ§ois Brunelle’s ‘Look-Alikes’ project
Â© 2013 NPR | ‘All Things Considered’
Â Â© FranĂ§ois Brunelle
Rudi Kistler and Maurus Oehmann | Mannheim, Germany 2012
PROJECT ‘I’M NOT A LOOK-ALIKE!’
(ProjĂŞt Je ne suis pas un sosie!)
I’m not a look-alike! is a project Â to make 200 photos of couples or look-alikes (doubles, doppelgĂ¤ngers) around the world and to create an international exhibit and a book with them. The photos are in black and white.
Â© FranĂ§ois Brunelle
Donmar Williams and Martine Chase | Weehawken, NJ USA 2011
Â© FranĂ§ois Brunelle
Elisa Berst and Corinne Barois | Paris, France 2010