Mexico: First Black President in North America? Obama? Guess Again.

Theodore Vincent’s book, “The Legacy of Vicente Guerrero, Mexico’s First Black Indian President” explores the life of Mexico’s president elected in 1829.  

Vicente Guerrero has been called the country’s Washington and Lincoln. This revisionist biography of one of Mexico’s most important historical figures–the person who issued the decree abolishing slavery–traces the impact of race and ethnicity on Mexico’s national identity.

An activist from boyhood and a mule driver by trade, Guerrero led a coalition of blacks and indigenous peoples during the difficult last years of Mexico’s war for independence from Spain, 1810-21. In office, he taxed the rich, protected small businesses, tried to abolish the death penalty, and championed the village council movement in which peasants elected representatives without qualifications of race, property ownership, or literacy; he enjoyed signing his correspondence “Citizen Guerrero.” In 1831 he was kidnapped and killed by his political opponents.

This book also tells the story of seven generations of Guerrero’s activist descendants, including his grandson Vicente Riva Palacio, the historian whose well-known writings elaborate on the ideals of a multiracial and democratic nation. Still in print today, his novels, essays, and five-volume national history are used here to help explain the factors that made the region of “El Sur” a center for political radicals from 1810 up to the revolution of 1910.

For all readers interested in issues of diversity, this book will illuminate the evolving and distinct interactions of Indians, whites, and the descendants of the 250,000 Africans and 100,000 Asians brought to colonial Mexico.

Details on book.

1 Comment

    This book, I shall read. I am especially interested in any role in Mexian history played by slaves and later freedman who migrated from the States to Mexico. My mother spoke of a contingent of her family, the Avents (of French and African extraction) of Murfreesboro, Tenn., who went futher south so to speak to escape the virulent racism of the American South. To anyone reading this comment who has access to the information that I am seeking, a missive on how I might obtain such access would be greatly appreciated.