Las Mañanitas in Durham, NC


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P’urhépecha Migrants in North Carolina: A Saint Day Festival

Written by YURI RAMÍREZ, Ph.D. Candidate in History at Duke University

Swaying to the cacophony of norteño and banda music and admiring the traditional outfits as enthusiasts wait for the bull riders to begin their competition, it is easy to forget about the expected symbols that communicate “North Carolina”: tobacco production, pork barbecues, and the deeply entrenched black-white binary. Wendell, a cozy, self-proclaimed “small town with big charm,” is about thirty minutes outside of the Tar Heel State’s capital, Raleigh. Since 2011, Mexican migrants like Gamaliel Juárez Sánchez and Gonzalo Tomás from Cherán, Michoacán, have been organizing their hometown’s saint day festival on the outskirts of this rural North Carolina landscape.

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Neither Here Nor There

Wei Wang, a photographer and previous MFA student at Duke University, documented aspects of contemporary migration from the perspective of one Latino family from Siler City, North Carolina. These photographs and video tell the story of one Latino family who crossed the border to the U.S seventeen years ago, and despite the great distance and long separation, maintains important connections to their family in Central America.

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Los Sueños de Celeste

Video by Qahti Hart, previous MFA student at Duke University. 

Miguel Celeste was 10 and had already attempted to cross into the United States twice. In 1998, on the third try, he finally made it through. Two days later, he reunited with his father, who was working in Siler City, North Carolina.

Miguel has vivid memories of walking through the desert near Arizona with his mother and younger sister. He recalls climbing to the top of a big yellow border fence and being terrified to look down before jumping to the other side. These days, he says he tries not look out of windows when he’s high up because “it just does not go well for me.”

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