Most of the world may not know it, but over 1 million Mexicans identify as being of African descent. The history of Africans in Mexico is long and complex, and an animated web series is trying to educate audiences on part of this history. “Heroes of Color” is a web series by animator David Heredia of Heredia Designs. The animated series offers stories of unknown heroes of color from different times in history and different countries in each episode.
Yanga was Gaspar Yanga, said to be a prince from West Africa forced in slavery. He is also hailed as the first black liberator in the Americas. Yanga was one of the many Africans who were enslaved and brought to work in sugar cane plantations in Veracruz, Mexico. Yanga led a community of former slaves into freedom in a rebellion that took place in 1570. They went to establish what would become the first free African settlement in the Americas. In this community, Yanga and his people lived off subsistence agriculture and raised livestock. They grew in number, absorbing new arrivals who had escaped from other plantations.
Yanga directly challenged Spanish colonial authorities by raiding caravans transporting goods from the coast inland. In 1607, an army was sent to subdue the freed people of Yanga by the Spanish colonials, but they were successfully beaten back. This eventually led to a treaty between the Spaniards and the people of Yanga that allowed them to continue thrive in peace. Heredia’s animated story captures and reveals important events in Yanga’s history.
Are there other heroes of color whose stories need to be told? Share them with us by leaving a comment below or reaching me on Twitter @rafeeeeta