Latino Community & Culture Thrive in Philadelphia

Hayley Hanafee, for GPA -- Philadelphia’s Latino community has played an important role in the city’s rich history for more than 200 years.  According to the 2010 American Community Survey, there are more than 420,000 Latinos living in metropolitan Philadelphia today. Mexicans, Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Central and South Americans are among the diverse nationalities that share and call Philadelphia home.

Al Día, the city’s leading Spanish-English news organization, has been dedicated to contributing to the dialogue on Latino issues nationwide. Hernán Guaracao, Colombian-born and trained journalist, first published an 8-page newsletter from his home in North Philly two decades ago. Since the first print run of 1,000 copies, Al Día has grown from a one-man assembly line to a motivated team that strives “to promote excellence in American Journalism.”

Al Día News set out to create a publication that challenges media stereotypes about Latinos by distributing a wealth of high-quality print and digital media to the region’s diverse Hispanic populations. The local network of Latino visionaries has been brought into the public eye by sharing their stories of grassroots activism, cultural tradition, Latino entrepreneurship and political engagement.

To commemorate their 20th anniversary, Al Día has published a beautiful, visual account of Latino communities across the decades. The photographic record—200 Years of Latino History in Philadelphia—illustrates the Latino population’s commitment to civic affairs, cultural development, and economic prosperity.

Many of the cultural groups and community activists chronicled throughout the 228-page spread are still engaged in Philadelphia’s society today. To learn more about these groups and their current projects, be sure to check out some of the upcoming events around the city:

  • Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts: Guadalupe, Our Lady of the Roses, 4/19

    Intercultural Journeys presents highlights from the concert opera, “Guadalupe: Our Lady of the Roses,” which emphasizes themes of reconciliation, tolerance, nonviolence, and love between warring cultures.  Composer, James DeMars, uses Spanish, English, Nahuatl, and Latin to present the themes. The evening will also showcase performances by the Dali Quartet, Magdaliz Roura, and student groups from Esperanza Academy Charter High School and Artistas y Músicos Latino Americanos (AMLA).
  • Pan American Day: Expanding Economic Opportunities With Latin America, 4/24

    The Pan American Association of Philadelphia is dedicated to “promoting cultural, educational and economic activities designed to increase understanding and cooperation among the peoples of the Americas.” The conference will focus on expanding economic opportunities with Latin America with keynote speaker, Ambassador Carmen Lomellin, U.S. Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States.
  • Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts: 1492 , Music and Dance from Spain to the Americas, 4/25

    Maria del Pico Taylor and international artists will take you on a time travelling journey inspired by Christopher Columbus’ arrival to the New World for a unique multimedia music and dance show about musical roots and their transformation as a result of multicultural encounters. Spain, Mexico, and Cuba are the focus of this presentation. The project is created in collaboration with CONCILIO  of Spanish Speaking organization.
  • Filadelfia Latin American Film Festival, 4/27-4/28

    This is the first Annual Film Festival in the region that focuses exclusively on Latin American and Latino film and media artists. The festival will include screenings of ground-breaking works from all genres: short film, narrative, documentary, animation and full feature films. Through screenings, public discussions, and special events, the festival will foster cross-cultural understanding and celebrate the richness of Latin American/Latino cultures and experiences.
  • Lila Downs at the Annenberg Center for Performing Arts, 4/28

    Lila Downs, Oaxaca-born and Minnesota-raised singer, will take audience members on a musical journey featuring traditional Mexican music, fused with blues, jazz, soul and other Latin roots traditions. This performance is part of the Annenberg Center’s Latin Roots Series. At 6 pm, There will be “Taste of Mexico” pre-show with complimentary appetizers. First come, first served.
  • Place and Hogar: Ramifications in the Face of Demographic Flux with Taller Puertorriqueño

    Taller Puertorriqueño was founded in 1974 by Latino artists and activists in the North Kensington area dedicated to creating a community-based graphic arts workshop to provide cultural training alternatives to local youth. Join this panel of artists from Taller’s “Claiming Places Exhibition Cycle” (October 2012-July 201013) and scholars to engage in a conversation on issues of using art to stimulate community dialogue on questions of “ownership” and the consequences of making a space your own.

Image courtesy of