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Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations underway in Chapel Hill-Carrboro community

Members of Alma Peruana participate in a traditional Peruvian dance during the Seventh Latin American Festival in Carrboro on Aug. 27, 2022. Photo Courtesy of Susie Webb.

Hispanic Heritage Month runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 this year, and several groups and community organizations around the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area are celebrating with events throughout the month.

Hispanic Heritage Month began as a commemorative week in 1968 after it was introduced by a California congressman. Sept. 15 was chosen as the start date for this celebration because it coincides with the independence of several Latin American countries.

El Futuro — a mental health organization serving Spanish-speaking immigrants — is holding a Hispanic heritage event in Durham on Sept. 25 and an art auction on Oct. 8. 

Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools is also hosting a community celebration for the month on Oct. 14 in the Carrboro Town Commons.

Carrboro Town Council member Eliazar Posada said there are plenty of events during the month led by nonprofits like El Centro Hispano, El Vínculo Hispano and Mi Pueblo, in addition to the CHCCS celebration. 

"I really want to encourage folks to take time to learn about these grassroots Latinx organizations," he said. 

In addition to his position on the Town Council, Posada is the organizing director for Equality NC, an LGBTQ+ advocacy group. Posada also serves on the Board of Directors for several local community organizations, including the Chamber For a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro and the Chapel Hill Re-Imagining Community Safety Task Force.

As an organizer and activist, Posada said he encourages residents of Orange County to interact with the cultural diversity around them and observe work being done in the community.

“It’s important to look into organizing happening around you, whether it’s services regarding housing or food insecurity, migrant worker’s rights or any important work happening in Orange County,” he said. 

The Chapel Hill Public Library has brought back weekly Spanish Story Time events for children and families during Hispanic Heritage Month.

“We recently got a bunch of funding through our Friends of the Library organization to go toward the purchase of more materials in languages other than English, so we’ve really been promoting our recent increase in our Spanish language collection,” Library Marketing and Communications Coordinator Hannah Olson said.

After Spanish mass at St. Thomas More Catholic Church, Olson said library employees have been distributing literature about resources and events for Spanish-speaking individuals during the month. 

“As a library, we are trying to do things not just for the community, but with the community, and a lot of this effort to reach out stems from many of our employees being native Spanish speakers wanting to share the resources that we have to offer,” Olson said.

Dates and times for Spanish Story Times and recommended reads for both adults and youth during Hispanic Heritage Month can be found on the Chapel Hill Public Library’s website.

Carrboro Recreation, Parks & Cultural Resources Department is also hosting and sponsoring multiple events this month outside of normal programming that is oriented toward the Latinx community. 

Carrboro has the highest percentage of Hispanic and Latinx people in Orange County, with 13 percent, compared to the county-wide population percentage of 8.8 percent, according to the 2020 U.S. Census.

“This is something we really try and celebrate year-round here in Carrboro," Charles Harrington, interim director for Carrboro's Recreation, Parks & Cultural Resources, said. "For this month, in particular, the mayor proclaimed a local observance of Hispanic Heritage Month, so we have a bunch of things happening around town in addition to our regular Zumba lessons and Spanish classes that we offer year-round.”

More details about these specific events and information about additional events can be accessed on the Carrboro Parks and Recreation website.

@DTHCityState | 

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Walker Livingston

Walker Livingston is the 2024 enterprise managing editor at The Daily Tar Heel. She has previously served as summer city & state editor and assistant city & state editor. Walker is a sophomore pursuing a double major in journalism and media and American studies, with a minor in data science.