On February 1, when Afro-Cuban/Dominican singer and writer Juliana Pache checked out what was new online, she was disappointed she didn’t see any Latino content sites posting about Black History Month. “Now, it was February 1, and it was the morning, so, granted they may have just not posted yet,” she told Ain’t I Latina. “But I noticed on one of the accounts, they somehow managed to post a picture and article about a non-Latinx white woman that morning. I was low-key infuriated. Not because there was a white woman getting representation, but because we got none.”
Though she did try giving U.S. publications the benefit of the doubt, the general lack of coverage Afro-Latinos get in the media inspired her to start #BlackLatinxHistory – a hashtag to celebrate Latinos who are also part of the African diaspora. (The term Latinx, pronounced “La-teen-ex,” is an effort to create a gender neutral term for communities of Latin American descent.)
“We’re so often left out of the conversation,” Pache said. “Black Latinx is so rich, and it’s right here in the U.S.”
Once she started posting things on her social media accounts, other people soon joined in. Here are 10 Afro-Latinos who changed history, according to #BlackLatinxHistory:
María Elena Moyano
Moyano became an activist as a teenager. By age 25, she was the president of the Federación Popular de Mujeres de Villa El Salvador, and she started programs to help low-income communities gain access to food and education.
Read more about her life in a pdf version of Diana Miloslavich Tupac’s biography on Moyano here.
Modesto Cepeda was born in Puerto Rico in 1938, and though the island’s rich percussion tradition of bomba y plena were part of his childhood, he realized that not everyone grew up connected to this Afro-Puerto Rican heritage. So he started the School of Bomba and Plena for children from low-income families, to keep this folkloric music alive and well.
Jose Francisco Peña Gomez
Jose Francisco Peña Gomez – who was born to a Dominican mom and a Haitian dad – was a skilled orator. He served as mayor of Santo Domingo in the 80s, and he also ran for president multiple times.
As a pan African historian, Carlos Moore – a Cuban of Jamaican descent – would approve of Pache’s hashtag.
Zulia María Mena García was born in 1965 in Quibdó, Choco. Even though she didn’t have political experience or the money to run a campaign, Mena became the first Afro-Colombian congresswoman.
Pedro Albizú Campos
Pedro Albizú Campos – a Puerto Rican polyglot – graduated from Harvard in 1921. He then returned to Puerto Rico and opened his own law firm, where he accepted food and clothing for those who who couldn’t afford to pay legal fees.
Arturo Alfonso Schomburg
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Arturo Alfonso Schomburg was a Puerto Rican born historian, writer, and activist in the U.S. who raised awareness of the great contributions that Black Latin Americans and Black Americans have made to society. While Schomburg was in grade school, one of his teachers claimed that blacks had no history, heroes or accomplishments, which inspired him to find and document the accomplishments of Africans on their own continent and in the diaspora. Throughout his life, he collected literature, art, slave narratives, and other materials of African history. These pieces eventually became the basis of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, at the New York Public Library branch in Harlem. #BrillianceinBlack #BlackBrilliance #BHM #BlackHistoryMonth #BlackHistoryFacts #SchomburgCenter #BlackLatinxHistory #BlackDiaspora #ArturoSchomburg #ArturoAlfonsoSchmoburg
During the Harlem Renaissance, Arturo Alfonso Schomburg collected artifacts that documented the life of people of African descent. His collection was bought by the New York Public Library.
Puerto Rican baseball player Roberto Clemente was the first Latino player inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. After a 1972 earthquake in Nicaragua, Clemente tried to deliver aid to the Central American country, but he died in a plane crash.
Marta Moreno Vega
In 1976, Puerto Rican author, professor, and arts administrator Marta Moreno-Vega started the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute. The CCCADI works to “document and present the creative genius of African Diaspora cultures; prepare the next generation of cultural leaders; and unite Diaspora communities.”
Xica da Silva
Xica was a member of the social clubs that were only reserved to white members.