Mi Gente is a project of the Neighborhood Initiative at Atlanta History Center and has been produced in partnership with Freedom University, the Latino Community Fund, the Latin American Association, NCG Cinemas, Northeast Plaza, and Plaza Fiesta. The mural artist is Yehimi Cambrón. Mi Gente depicts the stories of the everyday individuals and experiences that make up the Latinx community of Atlanta. Through the thematic areas of education, labor, gender, political advocacy, and the current activism of Dreamers, Mi Gente invites viewers to view foundational vignettes that make up the five large portraits.
This event is family friendly. We ask that everyone wear a mask and maintain their distance; and that all attendees caravan past the mural in a vehicle if possible.
The first 50 guests will receive a grab bag with goodies and information from our partners, a print of the mural, along with coloring sheets and crayons for our youngest visitors.
When I first immigrated to Atlanta at seven years old, I was relieved to see panaderias and carnicerias up and down Buford Highway—that there were places like we had at home. The Buford Highway corridor became a community where my family could reimagine home and to this day, Buford Highway is still home for me.
Painting Mi Gente felt like an act of gratitude to the community that welcomed me and contributed to my growth. The mural is a landscape constructed of monumental portraits embracing smaller vignettes inspired by the values and points of pride in the community. The values and points of pride surfaced through community engagement and conversations with community partners (The Latino Community Fund, Freedom University, and the Latin American Association). Although the history of the Latinx community in Georgia played an important role in the design of the mural, I wanted to create a space that also challenges my community to embrace our diversity with more inclusivity.
The public will likely recognize the portraits of some of our better-known leaders among the five large portraits of this mural. But I intentionally included the portraits of activists like Arizbeth Sanchez as well “every-day” folks like a former student and the mother of another former student from Cross Keys High School—because their roles in our community are just as essential as the roles of the leaders the public might recognize.
A series of vignettes are embraced by each of the portraits, sending a message of acceptance and inclusivity. While these quick snapshots can be interpreted in many ways depending on the viewer, I chose images that depict education, activism, spaces of joy, and moments that are special to the Buford corridor. I chose to highlight gender nonconforming love, to center the faces of our LBTQ+ community members, and to remind us that our community also includes indigenous and Afrolatinx people. Beyond the place where we are born or the place our ancestors were born—we are diverse in our immigration narratives, our skin color, and the kinds of labor we provide.
Through Mi Gente, I want to show that it’s possible to honor our history, hold dear what we are most proud of now, while also challenging ourselves to live up to a diversity that is truly reflective of who we are.