“… Ser negro es una cultura, es sentir que uno tiene vida" - Zulia María Mena García
Zulia María Mena García (Zulia Mena) was born in Quibdó, Chocó, Colombia on November 21, 1965. The Chocó department of Colombia, located on the west side of the country and borders Panama, is widely known for it's large Afro-Colombian community. Colombia has the fourth largest Black/African-descent population following Haiti, Brazil and the United States.
Zulia Mena studied Regional/Territorial and Community Management at the Diego Luis Cordoba Technological University of Chocó. The well-known activist in Colombia is the face of many efforts to uplift much of the Afro-Colombian community. In 1993, Zulia Mena lead the grounds for preparing Law 70 which states that acknowledgement of the Afro-Colombian existence should be nationwide and grants legal rights to African ancestral land to descendants. President César Gaviria Trujillo signed in the law on August 27th, 1993. A year later in 1994, without having political funds or experience, she was elected into Congress. She became the country's first Afro-Colombian Congresswoman and served for four years.
She then went on to serve as the Mayor of Quidbó between 2012 and 2015 as well as the Colombian Vice Minister of Culture in 2016 to 2018. During that time, she had an insurmountable amount of success in raising awareness of Afro-Colombian community issues abroad while still being progressive and serving constituents at home who elected her into office.