Pathways to Freedom: Maroon Societies in the Americas

Makeda Cheatom
December 13, 2021


WorldBeat Center is blessing San Diego with a unique and informative exhibit about our culture that has been hidden and very few know about. The exhibit is called Pathways to Freedom: Maroon Societies in the Americas and it will be about the Underground Railroad South. The project will include a new exhibit in partnership with the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Task Force as well as a virtual photograph exhibit. WorldBeat Center plans to host a series of bi-national workshops, lectures and short podcast series. We hope this project will serve to build bridges between Blacks and Mexicans in San Diego as well as educate the San Diego community at large about this little known history.

Next your WorldBeat Center will be focusing on the Black Seminoles, the Gullah Geeche Nation and the Mascogos from Coahuila, Mexico.

Throughout history, enslaved African runaways in the Americas are referred to as Maroons. Maroons could not bear to be enslaved, so they ran away and established their communities, often deep in the woods, swamps, and nearby hidden waterways.

Most people know that the Underground Railroad went north but few know that years before enslaved people used an Underground Railroad going South. For enslaved people in Texas, refuge in Canada was impossibly far away. Many enslaved people took advantage when they heard slavery was ended in Mexico many years before the Emancipation Proclamation. Researchers estimate 5,000 to 10,000 people escaped from bondage into Mexico and some researchers think the actual number could be even higher.

There’s some evidence that tejanos, or Mexicans in Texas, acted as “conductors” on the southern route by helping people get to Mexico. In addition, researchers have also identified a Black woman and two white men who helped enslaved workers escape and tried to find a home for them in Mexico. Today there is a small community of enslaved African American descendants in the Mexican state of Coahuila, a border community next to Bracketville, Texas. WorldBeat Center will be working closely with members of the community of Muzquiz, in El Nacimiento de los Negros to share their stories and culture.

Stay tuned our first event will be a presentation on the Gullah Geeche nation by Dr. J Vern Cromartie and the first project will include a virtual exhibit on Afro-Mexicans in Costa Chica, Oaxaca. More information can be found on our website


Makeda Cheatom