Vast changes for Hispanics illustrated in photo exhibit

The images range from the fantastic to the everyday:

A quebradito band in matching fringed shirts performs at the International Ballroom.

A smiling boy enjoys roasted corn at a rodeo.

Thousands assemble to demonstrate solidarity.

Skeleton-face dancers pose during a Day of the Dead celebration.

All these moments are part of the lives of Atlanta’s Hispanic community, one of the fastest-growing minority population centers in the country.

Since 1981 MundoHispanico, the largest Spanish-language newspaper in the state, has documented the news stories and the life stories of this diverse group, with a weekly circulation that has grown to 71,500.

Beginning Wednesday, in accordance with Hispanic Heritage Month, photographs and stories from the newspaper’s 28-year history will be on display at the Atlanta History Center in an exhibit entitled “Through the Lens of MundoHispanico: Georgia’s Hispanic Community.”

The exhibit offers a sense of the sweeping changes in Atlanta’s immigrant community. Its concerns range from the recent legislative push against undocumented aliens to the thriving business community among Latin entrepreneurs.

Lino H. Dominguez, who purchased the newspaper in 1982, curated the exhibit, with the help of the History Center’s Susan Neill. Neill points out that the exhibit is bilingual, as were early issues of MundoHispanico. (The newspaper went all-Spanish in 1997. Cox Enterprises bought the paper in 2004. Cox also owns The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.)

Milestones that might have gone unnoticed in the Anglo community are remembered in 80 framed examples of the newspaper and its photographs, which began using color images in 2000. In one issue is a feature on Harry Bendiburg, a justice of the peace in Kennesaw, who became the state’s first elected Hispanic official, according to Dominguez. (“Harry says he got elected because his name didn’t sound Hispanic,” Dominguez confides.)

Other issues detail the newspaper’s response to the Marielito crisis of the mid-1980s, when Cuban detainees mounted violent protests at the Atlanta Penitentiary. They were part of the flotilla of 125,000 refugees that left Cuba’s Mariel harbor in 1981.

“The good ones paid for the reputations of the bad ones,” said Dominguez. “We covered that story for three years.”

Among the news stories are features on the stars of the Hispanic community: Juan Ramirez, violinist with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra; Jorge Campillo, a pitcher with the Atlanta Braves; and the late Roberto Goizueta, former CEO at Coca-Cola.

Exhibit

“Through the Lens of MundoHispanico: Georgia’s Hispanic Community”

Opens Wednesday; 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Mon.-Sat.; noon-5:30 p.m. Sunday. Admission is included in the cost of general admission to the History Center: $15 adults, $12 students. 130 West Paces Ferry Road. 404-814-4000; www. atlantahistorycenter.com/