Native Village
Youth and Education news
January 1, 2011 Volume 1

The first Black president in North America led Mexico 173 years ago
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Barack Obama is the first black President of the United States. Not long ago, the possibility was unheard of.

But for the 100,000,000  people living in Mexico, the idea isn't new or ground-breaking. They had a black president, 173 years ago: Vicente Guerrero.

During Mexico's war for independence from Spain, a warrior emerged. He was a black Indian named Vicente Guerrero. In his first battle, Vicente was commissioned as captain. As the war raged on, most Mexican leaders were killed or captured.  But Guerrero fought on. He led 2,000 men into the Sierra Madre mountains where they kept up the fight.

By 1821, Mexico was winning the war. By now, people recognized Guerro for his integrity as a leader and independence fighter. In 1829 he became president of Mexico.

“He began a program of far-reaching reforms, abolishing the death penalty and starting construction of schools and libraries for the poor. He ended slavery in Mexico," wrote William Loren Katz in his book, Black Indians. "Yet, because of his skin color, lack of education and country manner, he was held in contempt by the upper classes in Mexico City.”

Guerro had a “a gentleness and magnetism that inspired love among his adherents but he was still 'a triple-blooded outsider,” said U.S. historian M.H. Bancroft,

Black historian J.A. Rogers says calls Guerrero the “George Washington and Abraham Lincoln of Mexico” for his striking accomplishments.

During his youth Guerrero was an illiterate mule driver. At 40 he learned to read and helped craft the Mexican Constitution. In 1824, he wrote the following provision: “All inhabitants whether white, African or Indian, are qualified to hold office.”

30 years later, the U.S. Supreme Court made the Dred Scott decision which says that “a black man has no rights that a white man is bound to respect,” and that Black people weren’t, and could never be, citizens of the United States.

Some might wonder what this says about the United States?

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