The Underground Railroad to Mexico. Across Texas and parts of Louisiana, scholars are working to piece together a puzzle of a largely forgotten piece of American history: a network that helped thousands of Black slaves escape to south of the border. apnews.com/d26243702f11e2…
This was a deeply personal story to research and write. During my reporting, I found out that my great grandfather’s mother was born in Monclova, Mexico. That was a stop on the Underground Railroad to Mexico. Her name was Francisca Martinez
My great grandfather Florencio Contreras come to the US from Mexico in the early 1900s. Here's US Census form from 1910 where he is listed as a boarder. The Census taker classified him as a "mulatto" under race
When my great grandfather Florencio Contreras finally came to Houston, he settled first in Acres Homes, then the largest unincorporated Black community in the U.S. South, instead of moving to a largely Mexican American neighborhood. He then started a blacksmith business
Florencio endured racist epithets his whole life as people made fun of his "dark" skin and asked him repeatedly if he was really Black. Census records would later list him as "white." He died in 1960.
Both Mexican American families of my father and my mother continue to live in historically Black areas of Houston. We continue to see them as family because...they are. Here I am with my Gonzales cousins. #blaxicans
The Depression-era WPA gathered stories for its Slave Narrative Collection. Ex-slaves like Felix Haywood openly spoke of the Underground Railroad to Mexico. "All we had to do was walk, but walk south, and we’d be free as soon as we crossed the Rio Grande." iowaculture.gov/history/educat…
And get ready. More groundbreaking research coming on the Underground Railroad to Mexico from these scholars. Give them a follow! @LorienTinuviel @MekalaAudain @AliceBaumgartner @QVillarreal @ThomasMareite @BeauGaitors #UndergroundRailroad
Ad seeking the return of a fugitive slave named ‘Alfred’ in The Texian Advocate, Sept 1862. Slave owner says he believed Alfred was heading not north, but to Mexico, where 1Ks of slaves fled. They were helped by Mexican Americans. #UndergroundRailroadtoMexico
The documentary 'Just a Ferry Ride to Freedom' showcases stories about the Texas-Mexico border and its connection to the Underground Railroad to Mexico in pre-Civil War America. African Americans and Mexican Americans are now searching for this history

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More from @RussContreras

4 Jul
July 4th has always hurt me. I could have a long line of Mexican Americans who couldn’t vote, couldn’t buy homes in certain places and had hide from the KKK and Texas Rangers. Then I remember Uncle Ciprian. He suffered a concussion at Iwo Jima. And then:

apnews.com/d2e7ef2f384817…
Complicated or angry about our position in the US, we still always paused on the 4th of July. Here is Ciprian Contreras with his family in the 1970s
Here’s the song written by my cousin, Cruz Contreras, about his grandfather Ciprian Contreras. My cousin is the lead singer for the Appalachian rock band, The Black Lillies. The song is about Ciprian’s experience at Iwo Jima
Read 13 tweets
2 Feb
There are many white writers who have tackled issues around Mexican Americans and Mexican immigrants. Those books were widely praised by Latinos and still read today. Here are a few on my shelf in Albuquerque @lwmunoz is one my former colleagues (1of5)
My amazing high school and undergrad classmate @HistoryBrian wrote a badass book on Mexican American and black civil rights in Texas. He’s a habitual outside-the-comfortable-space stepper. (2of5)
Novelist Edna Ferber interviewed Mexican American civil rights leaders Dr Hector P Garcia and lawyer John J Herrera for her 1952 novel, “Giant.” After the book came out, she sent each a check for their time. They never cashed it. Hung it on the wall with pride (3of5)
Read 5 tweets

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