Wayne State scholars receive inaugural Vicente Guerrero Equality Award

June 17, 2014

Wayne State University scholars Jose Cuello and Talia Weltman-Cisneros were recognized on June 11 as recipients of the inaugural Vicente Guerrero Equality Award during the Justice & Equality Awards Ceremony in Southfield, Mich.

Hosted by the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Task Force of Southfield, awards were presented to individuals in Southeast Michigan who, through their work or volunteer efforts, have made significant contributions to promote justice, equality and diversity.

The "Vicente Guerrero" category was created to recognize individuals who have helped create better understanding and harmony between the African American and Mexican communities. Guerrero, the second president of Mexico, was a leader of freedom in the Americas, helping to abolish slavery in Mexico in 1829.

Cuello (Royal Oak), associate professor of history and faculty member of the Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies, and Weltman-Cisneros (Huntington Woods), Department of Classical and Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures lecturer, were recognized for their scholarly contributions to the exhibit, "Pathways to Freedom in the Americas: Shared Experiences between Michigan, USA, and Guerrero, Mexico."

The exhibit, which is currently traveling throughout Michigan, compares the historical experiences of African Mexicans in Costa Chica in the state of Guerrero with the experiences of Mexican immigrants and African Americans in Michigan.

Cuello and Weltman-Cisneros researched the migration of runaway slaves to Michigan via the Underground Railroad, the migration of Mexican immigrants seeking the American Dream in Michigan, and the migration of African Americans -- slave and free -- from the South to Mexico. 

"It was a wonderful experience to represent Wayne State in working with such a dedicated group of all-volunteer African American colleagues to honor the legacy of Dr. King by highlighting the shared experiences of the African and Mexican diasporas in the states of Michigan and Guerrero," said Cuello. 

"Receiving this award is a great honor, as it not only represents the recognition of my scholarship and contributions to my profession, but it also highlights the importance of local and global conversations and collaborations regarding issues of equality and justice," said Weltman-Cisneros. "In particular, this award truly recognizes the invaluable dialogue between diverse communities in Detroit and Mexico, and between leading community organizations and academic institutions, such as the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Task Force Inc., Wayne State University, and the Universidad Autónoma de Guerrero in Mexico."

Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution offering more than 370 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 28,000 students.

Photos: (Top) Jose Cuello; Talia Weltman-Cisneros