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Heroes of Color tributes Gaspar Yanga, African warrior

In Heroes of Color, David Heredia breaks down the history of Gaspar Yanga in a clear and engaging timeline with attractive animations

Animated short ‘Heroes of Color’ tributes Gaspar Yanga, African warrior who led African slaves to freedom in colonial Mexico

By ANDREW S. VARGAS, Contributing Writer

Mexico’s African-descendant community has exploded into public consciousness over the last year, with a historic census tallying more than one million self-identified Afro-Mexicans in Mexico. Many in the gulf state of Veracruz have been aware of their own African history for generations, especially those who live in the vicinity of Yanga, the first free African settlement in the Americas named after a rebellious African warrior, Gaspar Yanga.

The first free African settlement in the Americas wasn’t in Colombia or the Dominican Republic, as some may think. It was in a small town in the foothills of Mexico’s gulf coast, where the importation of slave labor drove the production of sugar cane throughout the colonial period.

Realizing the fascinating story largely hidden in obscurity, animator David Heredia has dedicated that latest episode of his Heroes of Color web series to the town’s glorious past.

As Heredia informs us in the video’s voiceover, Yanga was named after Gaspar Yanga: a West African prince sold into slavery who lead a community of Cimarrones to freedom in the steamy mountains of Veracruz. Far from the centers of Spanish colonial power, the Cimarrones lived off of small-scale agriculture and livestock as their community absorbed a constant influx of new arrivals from plantations across the region. But the community also directly challenged colonial power by carrying out raids on caravans that transported goods from the port of Veracruz to the capital.

Naturally, this earned them the ire of the Spanish crown and in 1609 an army was sent to put down the rebellious slaves. But Yanga and his followers had other ideas and the community successfully staved off Spanish intervention before brokering a treaty that allowed their community to thrive in peace.

In Heroes of Color, Heredia breaks down these events in a clear and engaging timeline that he accompanies with attractive animations that dramatize the most emblematic events in Yanga’s history. While the series is currently only two episodes in, the expectation is that there will be more exciting historical anecdotes from Heredia.

This article originally appeared on remezcla.com

Compton Herald is a digital news publication providing clear, fair and current news, information and commentary about Compton, the Los Angeles metropolitan area, Los Angeles County, California, and the world.

  • Jamie June 17, 2016

    Yang looked like an African from Africa not like this horrible animation of him. Yanga was full black not a mixed. Yanga was supposedly an African princess who was captured.

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