He Was The Last Governor Of California Under Mexican Rule

Pio Pico
Shonda Buchanan
August 26, 2020

Pío Pico watched carefully as his peers cast their votes. Finally, the count was in: he was the new governor of Alta California!

It was a powerful achievement. His parents were among the founding 44 families of Los Angeles, and now he was California’s leader. But as a Black and Indigenous Mexican, he was the kind of person greedy whites did not want in power.

He served only one year before America did the unthinkable. Not only did they want the land – but they could not stand a Black Mexican in charge!

The fight was on.

Pico was staunchly anti-slavery. White politicians seethed, wanting to expand American territory West, slaves and all. They tried to buy the land – but Mexico refused.

So America declared war!

Pico went to get reinforcements from Baja, and his brother led an army to fight, but Mexico eventually lost.

The United States absorbed the land – though California rejected slavery, leading to the Civil War only 13 years later. But Pico’s story was not yet over.

Though they refused him his governorship, Pico continued to fight racism, discrimination and persecution in the region, to keep his land and people free of slavery and colonialism.

Pío Pico’s name peppers streets and parks throughout California. His legacy of self-determination and resilience will never be forgotten!

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