Hi Meltingpot Readers,
I figured for the rest of the short month of February, I’d use the Meltingpot to highlight some Black history facts that most people don’t know about, paying particular attention to the Black heroes and heroines who made their mark beyond US borders. First up is Martín de Porres.
Claim To Black history fame: Martín de Porres was the first black saint in the Americas. Born in 1579, the son of a former African slave and a Spanish nobleman in Peru, de Porres was only expected to live life as a beggar. Instead he became a Dominican brother and developed a reputation for being a healer and an animal whisperer of sorts. That being said, because he was Black, his role in society and the church was limited, but he never let that stop him from wanting to help others.
Why I Love Him: Besides the fact that his ethnic make-up is the same as my kids–Kinky Gazpacho all the way– Martín de Porres is the patron saint of some of my favorite things; interracial relations, mixed people, Black people, social justice, racial harmony and hair stylists. Yes, hair stylists. What’s not to love?
One More Thing: I kind of think Martín de Porres might also be considered the first ‘magical negro.’ He was asexual, could speak to animals and he was a healer to all. Legend says he also had one heck of a green thumb and could make lemon trees yield fruit all year long!
I happen to have a small collection of Martín de Porres memorabilia sitting on my black saints altar at home. I only have one statue and a charm so far, but I did just find this beautifully illustrated children’s book about his life in the library. I will do my best to find a copy for myself.
Tell me dear readers, did you ever know about Martín de Porres? Has this been a worthwhile Black history moment? If so, feel free to share. And if you want to know even more about this incredible man, check out this website.