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Cinco de Mayo Is Black History
5/5/2015 2:59:24 PM

By Joel Woodhall

Corona de Mayo?  Cinco de Drinko?  Something like that.  After combing through this years Cinco de Mayo ads, to find myself a place to get my 'drinky, drinky' on, the only correct ad that I found was from T.G.I. Friday’s – "Let’s Party To The Mexican’s 1862 Victory at the Battle Of Puebla!"
That’s right, I said it; Cinco de Mayo is actually for the Mexican State of Puebla, celebrating their victory in 1862 against the powerful French army.  Not Mexican Independence day, which is September 16th, 1810.
You’re probably scratching your head right about now, thinking, Mexico doesn’t even celebrate their own holiday?  According to the History Channel, “The fifth of May is just like any other day in Mexico,” except in the state of Puebla.  Call up your Mexican friend and ask him. 
However, before you go and challenge your Mexican friend's knowledge on what really happened on Cinco de Mayo, in that very important battle against the French, ask yourself what you know about the Underground Railroad, traveling south.  Did you know the Underground Railroad ran south from Texas to Mexico in the early to mid 1800s, freeing thousands of slaves? 
Tex-Mex History
It all started between the years 1810-1821, when war was taking place within Mexico as they fought for independence.  With war going on in the Mexican country, the Coahuila-Texas border was still being hashed out.  It wasn’t until 1824, that a real glimmer of hope came for the African slaves, when the Sovereign General Constituent Congress outlawed the commerce and traffic of slaves within Mexico.  At this point, Texas was still part of Mexico.
Five years later, on September 15, 1829, President Vicente Guerrero, officially abolished slavery within Mexico.  Historian Sean M. Kelly says that this is when the “faint connection between Mexico and the idea of freedom” came to life.  The proximity of the United States and Texas to Mexico created a natural pathway for the slaves, who were mostly brought to Texas from the south.  Texas didn’t agree with these laws, and became independent in 1836.  By 1845, Texas became the 28th state in the Union.
John S. Ford, who was a doctor, lawyer, journalist, and Mexican War Veteran, suggested that there was upwards of $3.2 million dollars worth of slaves that escaped to Mexico, at approximately a $600 price tag, per returned slave.  That equates to 4 - 5 thousand escaped slaves, via the southernmost route of the Underground Railroad.
Why Did I Just Read A History Lesson
The Mexican laws gave the slaves freedom, and the Mexicans protected the Africans from “slave-hunters," who came to Mexico trying to demand their “property” back. 
Now this brings us to why Cinco de Mayo is important to Black History.  History suggests that more than 4,000 African slaves entered Mexico before the 1862 Battle of Puebla.  33 abolished years later, the freed Africans helped pay back their Mexican counterparts.  Mexican defenders and Mexican Africans fought what was said to be the “world's strongest army," at that time in history, which was the French.  They were headed to Mexico City and were stopped in their tracks during the Battle of Puebla.  The victory was a blow to the French army and to US slaveholders.  Three years later, on December 6th, 1865, the United States abolished slavery with the 13th amendment.
So while you’re out this evening enjoying your Cinco de Drinko, soft tacos, frijoles con queso dip, and about to crack that wet back Mexican joke for crossing the river - remember this; your ancestors may have happened to cross that very same river. Literally.

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