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Blacks, Mexicans cultivated relationships that led to liberation during 1800’s, local professor says

St. Mary’s University professor says relationships led to freedoms on both sides of the border

SAN ANTONIO – While school curriculums cover the major events during the Civil War era, there are some monumental events during that time that most students in Texas will probably never learn about in the classroom, a St. Mary’s University professor said.

For instance, a relationship that Black union soldiers in Louisiana developed with Mexicans and Mexican-Americans in Texas during the 1860s that played important roles in liberation on both side’s of the border.

KSAT-TV EXTRA: Watch an extended version of this story below and on the KSAT-TV streaming app.

St. Mary’s University professor Teresa Van Hoy said after the Civil War, black union soldiers traveled from Louisiana and helped to liberate Mexico from French control.

“After the war, they (union soldiers) snuck across to Mexico to help Mexicans and Mexican-Americans overthrow the French,” Van Hoy said.

As seen in pictures from the Library of Congress, the aid pointed to a deep-rooted camaraderie.

Van Hoy said before slavery ended in America, slaves would flee to Mexico, which abolished slavery in the 1820s, by following trails left in the sand by Mexican wagoneers who traded goods.

“Enslaved people in Texas were heading for Mexico and freedom. Mexico was freedom, and Mexico protected them the minute they crossed the border,” Van Hoy said.

Van Hoy said the relationship angered some White Texans, who began killing the wagoneers, until San Antonio Mayor A. A. Lockwood stepped in.

“The mayor of San Antonio protested because the merchants were unhappy because they couldn’t get their goods out,” Van Hoy said.

It’s a chapter of history that Van Hoy said is often untold but should be celebrated to help the nation heal from ongoing biases and disparities.

"Let’s put that on a black plaque. You know, those famous Texas historical markers. Let’s sing and dance and celebrate,” Van Hoy said.

A good place to explore southern history is at the San Antonio African-American Community Archive and Museum located at 430 N. Cherry St. The building is currently closed now due to COVID-19, but you can visit its website by clicking here.

WATCH KSAT-TV Extra below: Extended interviews with the creators of Black History 365, a textbook and curriculum aiming to fill in the blanks of Black history in America.


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