[This blog post was written by Samantha Crisp, Director of the Outer Banks History Center.]
In recognition and celebration of the contributions and culture of Hispanic and Latinx Americans to our nation and society, Gov. Roy Cooper has proclaimed September 15, 2018 to October 15, 2018 as Hispanic Heritage Month for the state of North Carolina. In conjunction with Governor Cooper’s announcement, we would like to share one of our recently processed collections that directly relates to North Carolina’s Latinx community, the Mano al Hermano Records.
Mano al Hermano (“My Hand to My Brother”) was envisioned as early as 2003, when
a Latinx support group for the Outer Banks community was founded by Sister Arcadia Rivera. After dying out, this group was revived by Ginger Candelora in 2010 as an affiliate with Interfaith Community Outreach. Candelora’s group was given 501(c)(3) status in April 2011 under a new name, Mano al Hermano.
Mano al Hermano’s mission is to serve the Hispanic and Latinx community of the Outer Banks by supporting literacy and education initiatives, offering English language classes, providing guidance on immigration and other legal issues, and encouraging collaboration between the Latinx and Anglo communities of Dare County. From 2013 to 2017, Mano al Hermano organized an annual celebration in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, first called the Hispanic Heritage Festival, and later called the OBX Latin Festival. The organization offers regular workshops and presentations on developing issues affecting the Latin American community as a whole and the Latinx community of the Outer Banks specifically, including changes in federal immigration policies (for example, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA), local resolutions relating to undocumented immigrants, and guidance on dealing with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials.
One of Mano al Hermano’s early initiatives was to establish a community garden on Roanoke Island with the assistance of the Dare County Airport Authority. The goal of the community garden was “to provide affordable and accessible healthy food to locals while encouraging community involvement and interaction.” Mano al Hermano still operates this community garden today, with a special plot set aside for children affiliated with the organization to participate in a 4-H club called the “Mini Dirt Diggers.”
Another major initiative led by the group is the Family Literacy Program. This program involves home-based volunteer tutoring for elementary school children on a weekly basis as well as English language lessons for parents. The project is supported by community volunteers who act as tutors. The program also includes a special eight-week summer program culminating in and a field trip for participants hosted by the North Carolina Coastal Federation.
The Outer Banks History Center’s Mano al Hermano Records, 2010-2018, contains newspaper clippings, event flyers and programs, photographs, a scrapbook, and other papers created and collected by the organization from the time of its inception. Photographs in the collection mainly depict groups of children participating in various activities as part of Mano al Hermano’s Family Literacy Program and working in the community garden. For more details about the collection, researchers can view its finding aid, which is accessible in both English and Spanish.
Unfortunately, significant documentation of the Hispanic/Latinx community is lacking in many archives, including the State Archives of North Carolina and its regional units. Collections like the Mano al Hermano Records are indispensable to researchers attempting to understand the experiences, contributions, and stories of Hispanic North Carolinians. If you have original materials documenting the Hispanic community in North Carolina, are affiliated with a Latinx advocacy group, or would be willing to record an oral history interview about your role in the Latinx community, please reach out to us today to discuss donating your materials to our repository. We must act now to ensure that this important history is not lost!