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Skip Gates, the Harvard historian and editor of The Root, writes that Mexico had an elected leader of African descent – Vicente Guerrero–Â five decades before the Abraham Lincoln moved to emancipate slaves in the United States. Like Lincoln, Gates writes, Guerrero ended slavery in his country.
Disparagingly nicknamed “el Negro Guerrero” by his political enemies, Guerrero would in the United States have been classified as a mulatto. According to one of his biographers, Theodore G. Vincent, Guerrero was of mixed African, Spanish and Native American ancestry, and his African ancestry most probably derived from his father, Juan Pedro, whose profession “was in the almost entirely Afro-Mexican profession of mule driver.” Some scholars speculate that his paternal grandfather was either a slave, or a descendant of African slaves. …
On September 16, 1829 — Mexico’s Independence Day — Guerrero abolished slavery throughout the country, which has led many historians to refer to him as the “Abraham Lincoln of Mexico,” though Lincoln more properly should be referred to as “the Vicente Guerrero of the United States.” (And this action, by the way, was part of the reason that Texans fought to secede from Mexico a few years later, in 1836; remember the Alamo? That’s in part what Davy Crockett and his compatriots were fighting about in that Disney series we watched as children, but Disney left out the role of slavery!)