Your Guide to Hispanic Heritage Month

From September 15 to October 15, the nation will celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, and Durham is no exception.

Posted By Ashley Strahm on Aug 30, 2018

We're offering a glimpse into the incredible history of Hispanic heritage in Durham, as well as what to eat and explore as you foray into diverse community experiences this month.

A Rich History

From Tobacco to Tortillas, an ABC News story reads... a stark homage to the progress Durham's growing Hispanic community has made in the Bull City. The piece follows Roselia Flores, the entrepreneur who started restaurant Super Taqueria in 2001, and supermarket La Superior in 2005. The supermarket employs 49 people and is supported by vendors from Mexico, Central, and Latin America. She secured grants and a loan from the historically black-owned Mechanics and Farmers Bank, and her success is a glimpse into the power of community-based support and empowerment that has been a common thread throughout Durham for generations, in all walks of life.

Durham's Hispanic community grew to approximately 36,000 people (about 14 percent of the city's population) in 2010, and continues to flourish from diverse immigrant and domestic relocation origins. Host to a Latino-owned and run credit union, restaurants, businesses, and churches, Durham is progressing in exploring opportunities to integrate bi-lingual and intercultural values into city and county life.

Rodridgo Dorfman is a Santiago, Chile-native, Durham local, and multimedia award-winning filmmaker and producer. On July 24, Dorfman used his craft to illuminate precious and diverse facets of the Hispanic community with ¡FIESTA! Quinceañera, a six-part digital series. A collaborative effort between Nuevo South Media and PBS Digital Studios, Dorfman directed and produced the Durham-based series to cast light on the lives of four Latino immigrant families in the New South.

“The inspiration for ¡FIESTA! comes from the spirit of humanity and the poetic beauty of resistance found within the immigrant community,” says Dorfman. “After having spent several months with many wonderful and vibrant families, we discovered the strength and the dignity of community and culture is rooted in family and small business owners, musicians and dressmakers, choreographers, caterers and the fiestas that help everyone get through the long night. Yes, even though the Border is now everywhere, these stories remind us that our hearts and our minds are borderless.”

Special Hispanic Heritage Events

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Exploring the Hispanic community can't be done in just few events during one month of the year – there's just too much to discover! "The Hispanic community is as diverse as the Latin American continent south of the Rio Grande," Dorfman adds. "The community in Durham represents 33 countries with distinct histories and native languages like Quechua, Guarani and Aymara. In Mexico alone there are more 50 native languages spoken and if you happen to go to La Pulga (Durham Green Flea Market) on a Saturday, you may just hear some of them spoken. When you think Hispanic or Latino – think big, think bigger and more diverse than you can ever imagine."

Go ahead, dive in!

September 20: First Lady of the Revolution Documentary
The Durham Arts Council will screen a new documentary about Alabama debutante Henrietta Boggs, who traveled to Costa Rica in 1941 and began a “…decade-long journey through activism, exile, and political upheaval.” This timely film will be followed by a Q&A with local experts on the region.

September 21, 6-9pm: Third Friday Durham – Hispanic Heritage at the Visitor Info Center

Timed with the start of Hispanic Heritage Month, this Third Friday pop-up party is a celebration of the rich Latinx culture found right here in Durham! Filmmaker Rodrigo Dorfman and photographer Peter Eversoll will present ¡FIESTA! Quinceañera, and artist Cornelio Campos will have some of his work on display along with running an interactive painting activity throughout the event. Community organizations like El Centro Hispano will be available to discuss their various resources and programs, and local, Latinx-owned businesses including El Chapin, Tamale Factory, and Pincho Loco will be onsite to introduce you to their delicious products!

Join us for an evening of art, culture, food, and engagement!

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This summer, Durham has already enjoyed Hispanic heritage night at Durham Bulls Athletic Park with Los Toros de Durham, our annual Latino Festival, and our first-ever Latino PRIDE parade at Durham Central Park. "The New South and the Nuevo South live and grow side by side, and that’s a good thing," Rodrigo Dorfman says.

What to Eat

You're probably wondering how in the world you'll be able to get a taste of the town – but we've got you covered all month long!

About the Author

Ashley Strahm - Content and Automation Manager
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Teller of stories. Eater of food. Lover of Durham. Find me pedaling swiftly, clad in Birkenstocks, schnoodle in tow. We're not in Jersey anymore.