Africa: After decades of exclusion, Afro-Mexicans seek to be counted in the 2020 Census


Afro-Mexicans in Mexico are seeking to be included in the 2020 census count scheduled to take place later in the year after being excluded in the process for decades.

For over 500 years, the history, culture, and contributions of Afro-Mexicans have been excluded from the story of Mexico.

According, every November, the Black Towns of Mexico hold their annual convention to work toward the movement for political recognition and representation, social justice, and the economic
development of their communities.

This year, the convention was in the community of Cocoycán in Mexico City, the capital of the country, with the main goal of preparing for the population to be counted in the 2020 census for the first time in history.

The African Presence in Mexico

During colonial times there were three times more Africans in Mexico than Europeans, but their history, culture, and contributions have been excluded from the story of the nation. The Catholic Church allowed interracial marriages in Mexico, resulting in a population that is a “mixture” of Indigenous, African and European decedents.

In 1829, Mexico abolished slavery under the administration of Afromexican President Vicente Guerrero, years before the USA in 1865. Some African-Americans escaped to freedom through the “Underground Railroad” to Mexico. While Mexico did not implement a formal “racial” segregation system as in the USA, many Afromexican communities are located in more rural areas and are “geographically” segregated from developing cities, lacking roads and infrastructure, health care facilities, schools, etc.

The 2020 Census Count: A Movement of “Inclusion” not “Exclusion”

When Mexico won its independence, its Constitution recognized Indigenous populations

according to their native languages and historical geographical territories, which African descendants did not have. Historically, all non-European descendants in Mexico have been counted as part of the Indigenous population.

Earlier this year, legislation was passed to include the category of “Afromexican” in the 2020 census count. Training will be conducted to help census takers identify the various traditional local names and to include these. In this case, “race/ethnicity” is being used to “include” rather than to “exclude” a population. The Afromexican communities need to be counted for political representation, for the just allocation of government funds for cultural and social development, and for inclusion in the country’s economic development and growth.

No More Mexico without Afromexicans!

For over 500 years, the history, culture, and contributions of Afro-Mexicans have been excluded from the story of Mexico. Members of the various communities marched through the streets of Mexico City calling for recognition in the 2020 census: “Afromexicanos presente en el census
veinte veinte!”

We were proud to represent our home state of Guerrero. Guerrero has one of the largest concentrations of African descendants, especially in the Costa Chica region of the state.

Thanks to All Who Donated to this Cause

Back in 2011, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Task Force of Southfield, Michigan, USA, signed a cooperative agreement with Mexico Negro Civic Association to support their civil rights activities.

We are members of both organizations. So, we started a GoFundMe campaign and raised $1,000 USD and donated to Mexico Negro, A.C. They used these funds to pay for the transportation and costs for youth groups from Costa Chica to attend the national convention. The youth are our future! And, Dr. King’s spirit was with us. And, we thank all of those who contributed.

Workshops and Cultural Activities

Over 300 people attended the convention from communities throughout Mexico, Cuba, Columbia, Ecuador, Venezuela, and other Latin American countries. During colonial times, there were 20 times more Africans in the Americas than Europeans. Workshops were held to develop platforms and action plans for political and economic development. There were also numerous cultural activities. Enjoy these photos from the many activities of the event.

By Patricia Ann Talley and Donaji Mendez Tello, representing Mexico Negro Civic Association and
the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


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