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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

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.

Rodrigo 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 are 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.” More, Dorfman hosted a Durham 150 signature event at the Carolina Theatre to celebrate the diversity of the Durham Latinx community and commemorate the City of Durham's sesquicentennial.

Special Hispanic Heritage Events

Exploring the Hispanic community can't be done in just a 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!

7th Annual Uni Rumba en Fiestas Patrias: September 15

The City of Durham, Durham Parks and Recreation, Univision, and UniMás Raleigh are teaming up to bring this kickoff to life. This is a free, family event that will feature a full day of music and fun, including local talent, appearances by on-air personalities, and the opportunity to meet with non-profit organizations.

September 20, 6-9pm: Third Friday Durham – Hispanic Heritage at the Visitor Info Center

In the heart of downtown Durham, this Third Friday pop-up party is a celebration of the rich Latinx culture found right here at home! From live latin dance demos to mini lessons, food, and community partners ... we'll have tons to celebrate onsite. Join us for an evening of art, culture, food, and engagement!

"The New South and the Nuevo South live and grow side by side, and that’s a good thing," Rodrigo Dorfman says.

NCMA's Durham Convention Center Mural Celebration at CenterFest

Celebrate the gorgeous Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo-inspired pieces are by Cornelio Campos and Cecilia Lueza, respectively. During CenterFest on September 21 from 1-4 p.m., "visitors can have their portraits taken in front of the murals by a local photographer, enjoy a family art-making activity, and learn about the exhibition."

These new additions to Durham's robust public art scene come courtesy of the NC Art Museum, Durham Convention Center with and help from NCMA’s Teen Arts Council, El Pueblo, and El Centro Hispano.

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 with our Hispanic Heritage Month food guide!

About the Author

Ashley Strahm

Jersey roots, Durham fruits. Lover of all things edible, egalitarian and true. Find me clad in Birkenstocks, seeking Bull City Beautiful stories by trail, wheel and spoke.