History in the Making

Document Type



In the nineteenth century United States, African Americans faced severe forms of racism that manifested through institutions of slavery, segregation and discrimination. Antebellum and Civil War historians focus on African American resistance to white supremacy and oppression through various forms of resistance, some of which include violent revolts and the search for freedom in the North. With that being said, however, many historians seem to ignore the role of the US-Mexico borderlands in African Americans’ contestation of the racist laws of the American North and South. This article examines African Americans' experiences in the US-Mexico borderlands of New Mexico during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to illustrate how they used the borderlands as a tactic to escape and negotiate the racism, segregation, and discrimination they encountered in the North and South. The racial ambiguity of the US-Mexico borderlands created a space where African Americans, through their military service, negotiated the white supremacy in the US.