NACIMIENTO DE LOS NEGROS, Mexico — Their ancestors were African-Americans who escaped from the United States to Mexico in the 19th century, fleeing the slave trade for a desert village at the base of the Sierra Madre. They were called the Mascogos, roughly 60 black families who spoke and prayed in English as they hid from the white men who wanted to put them back in shackles.

That was six generations ago. Since then, their English vocabulary has dissipated, replaced by the Spanish of Northern Mexico. Droughts destroyed their farms. Drug cartels have inched closer to their village, whose name translates literally as “Birth of the Blacks.”

Now members of this community of 300 are heading back to the United States. It’s another vector in a history of migration, sometimes voluntary, sometimes forced, from slave ships across the Atlantic to the cross-border scramble for 21st-century jobs.

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