America isn’t the only country where Juneteenth is being celebrated.
According to National Geographic, an Afro-Mexican community has been celebrating the holiday for over 150 years.
The community is located south of the Texas border in a village called Nacimiento de Los Negros, which translates to “Birth of the Blacks.” The town was a haven for negros mascagos, an afro-descendant group in Coahuila. The Negros Mascogoss were descendants of Black Seminoles who allegedly escaped the cruelties of slavery in the south, migrating to Mexico.
Coahuila is located in the northern part of Mexico, where thousands of enslaved people escaped. Historians claimed that an estimated 10,000 enslaved people fled from Texas to Mexico for freedom, and the route from Texas to Mexico was referred to as the “Southern Underground Railroad.”
Before Texas became a U.S. state, Mexico abolished slavery in 1829. However, white slaveholders in Texas fought for their independence during the Texas Revolution, forming the Republic of Texas in 1836, which allowed them to make slavery legal. The enslaved people got word that freedom was awaiting just south of them, leading slaves to escape via different methods to cross the Rio Grande.
Many Black Seminoles from Georgia, North Carolina and Florida achieved freedom by teaming up with Native Americans against America during the Seminole Wars. Native Americans and Black Seminoles were pushed into Indian Territory, now called Oklahoma. And from Oklahoma, slaves were able to escape to Mexico.
“People in el Nacimiento had already been enjoying freedom for many years, since their arrival in Mexico in 1850,” Ester Hammack, a historian at the University of Texas at Austin, told the National Geographic. “[But] Juneteenth celebration in Coahuila, Mexico began as a means to show solidarity with their brethren in the U.S.”
Today, Afro-Mexicans celebrate the new federal holiday in Nacimiento De Los Negros with music, dance, and a parade of horseback riders. They also celebrate with Afro-Seminole and Mexican foods like pumpkin empanadas, corn on the cob, soske (corn-based atole), asado (pork in hot peppers, and tetapún (sweet potato bread).