Photo retrieved from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division-Bain Collection: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/search/?q=carlos%20mendoza
In the United States we often use the terms “America” and “American” loosely. We tend to forget that the terms not only refer to countries or people residing in North America but to those countries and individuals also living in Central, and South America. So even though everyone likes to call Baraka Obama “America’s first black president,” that is in actuality a misnomer.
America’s first black president was Dr. Carlos Antonio Mendoza. Dr. Mendoza was born in Panama City, Panama on October 31, 1856. He attended the National University of Colombia where he earned his Doctorate of Law degree. He held the position of Acting President of Panama State from 1871-1872. He was eventually named Second Designate by the legislature, and he became the 3rd president of the Republic of Panama on March 1, 1910, upon the death of President José Domingo de Obaldía, and Prime Designate, José Agustín Arango.
Dr. Mendoza only served as president for 7 months, the remainder of President Obaldías term, and he was not re-elected. Mendoza had hoped to be re-elected but some people in the country were not fans of his mixed racial heritage and were unhappy about his political stance.
Dr. Mendoza is famous in Panama for his defense of Victoriano Lorenzo, a renowned freedom fighter, his work in drafting the constitution, his authoring of the act, which separated Panama from Colombia (they used to be one country), and his opposition to Article 136 of the Panamanian Constitution which gave the US free reign to intervene anywhere in Panama in issues pertaining to public peace.
Dr. Mendoza died on February 13, 1916 at the age of 59. He is said to have been an advocate of the poor and marginalized people of the region.
EnCaribe Encyclopedia de Historia y Cultura del Caribe. Retrieved February 9, 2015 from: http://www.encaribe.org/es/article/carlos-antonio-mendoza-soto/553