Mexico needs to come to terms with a legacy of African slavery: Martin Luther King III

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FILE PHOTO: Martin Luther King III, son of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., speaks at the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Breakfast hosted by Rev. Al Sharpton and National Action Network, at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, U.S., January 21, 2019. REUTERS/Allison Shelley

A truth and reconciliation commission could help Mexico come to terms with a legacy of African slavery, civil rights activist Martin Luther King III said during a visit to the Latin American country.

King, the eldest son of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr, is visiting Mexico to join a government commemoration of Afro-Mexican liberation hero Vicente Guerrero, who as the nation’s second president abolished most slavery in 1829, before the practice was ended in Britain and the United States.

Guerrero died 190 years ago on Sunday, Feb, 14th.

Mexico has long overlooked the legacy of slavery and its impact on the country’s Black people, who are mostly concentrated in poor coastal villages on the Pacific and Gulf coasts.

Civil rights lawyer Martin Luther King III speaks during an interview with Reuters at a hotel as he visits Mexico to commemorate Afro-Mexican independence hero Vicente Guerrero, who as Mexico’s second president abolished slavery in 1829, in Mexico City, Mexico, February 13, 2021. REUTERS/Henry Romero

King, 63, said both Mexico and the United States could consider South African-style reconciliation processes to fully acknowledge the past.

“Before you can ever address a problem, you have to acknowledge that it exists,” King said in an interview on Saturday. “A truth and reconciliation commission gives people the opportunity to come and apologize for past conduct, so that you have a new slate.”

He said discussions about reparations for slavery should also flow from such a process.

Conversations about “reparations in my judgment are certainly in order in places around the world, particularly where people have been enslaved,” he said. “I think the conversations must take place.”

Few truth commissions around the world have tackled the legacy of slavery and colonialism directly.

However, a 2011 report from Mauritius’ Truth and Justice Commission documented abuses suffered under slavery and indentured labor and recommended some land reparation.

DeAratanha, Ricardo –– – Digital Image taken on Sunday, 07/15/2007, Altadena, CA – Photo by Ricardo DeAratanha/Los Angeles Times –– From LT to Rt: Maribel Silva, cq, Francisca Dominguez, cq, and Vanessa Zorrosa, cq, 7, looking on from the bleachers during Costa Chica’s final game at Eliot Middle School soccer field for the Liga Cuscatlan de Futbol. Costa Chica soccer team from Pasadena is composed largely of Mexicans who come from a region where many trace their ancestry to Africa. More than half of the original settlers of Los Angeles were of African descent. This story explores the lives of Afro–Mexicans or afro–mexicanos living in Los Angeles. In Mexico, Afro Mexicans are concentrated mainly in coastal states such as Guerrero, Oaxaca, Michoacan, and Veracruz.

African slavery in Mexico was at its height in the late 16th and early 17th centuries after Spain prohibited enslaving the indigenous population, with around 200,000 Africans brought to Mexico.

Growing awareness has led more people to self-identify as Afro-Mexican in recent years, with the 2020 census counting 2.5 million people, or 2% of the population, who self-identified as having African descent, up significantly from a count five years earlier.

“Black Mexican communities … must be included and must have a voice,” King said. “The goal is to make sure that nobody is invisible.”

Source: Yahoo Noticias

Mexico Daily Post

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