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Mural celebrating Latinx life goes up in Brookhaven

Yehimi Cambrón (left) and fellow muralist Joe Dreher stand outside Cambron's new mural, "Mi Gente," which Dreher helped paint. CONTRIBUTED: ATLANTA HISTORY CENTER
Yehimi Cambrón (left) and fellow muralist Joe Dreher stand outside Cambron's new mural, "Mi Gente," which Dreher helped paint. CONTRIBUTED: ATLANTA HISTORY CENTER

Atlanta artist Yehimi Cambrón tells the story of Latin American Atlantans in a new monumental mural at Northeast Plaza, to be unveiled this weekend.

The mural was commissioned by the Atlanta History Center, and takes up an exterior wall of the new NGC Cinema Brookhaven.

It includes five towering portraits of Latinx Atlantans. Within the lines of each portrait the artist has woven images and vignettes of Latin life.

The mural is intended to empower metro Atlanta’s Latinx community by elevating its diversity, according to Cambrón.

Titled “Mi Gente” (“My People”), the mural includes likenesses of Teodoro Maus, an activist and organizer who served as Mexican Consul General in Georgia from 1995 to 2001; Felipa Martinez, the mother of one of the artist’s students when Cambrón taught at Cross Keys High School in DeKalb County; Jason Esteves, Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education chair; Arizbeth Sanchez, Freedom University’s community engagement coordinator; and Danny Cabrera, a former student of Cambrón’s from Cross Keys High School.

“My goal is to capture what we find beautiful and powerful about our community,” she said of “Mi Gente,” in a statement, “but also to capture a landscape that challenges us to be truly inclusive of other voices and identities within our community. There is no one narrative for any group of people, and that is a beautiful thing.”

The History Center has planned a “Drive-Up” mural launch for Saturday, June 27, in which visitors are encouraged to view the mural from their cars, or from a spot just outside their vehicles, while observing social distancing.

The first 50 guests will receive a grab bag with goodies and information from project partners, a print of the mural, along with coloring sheets and crayons for youngsters.

Cambrón came to Atlanta just before her eighth birthday and is a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival “dreamer,” who advocates on behalf of other dreamers in the community.

Her earliest memories include seeing the butcher shops and bakeries along Buford Highway, an area she still calls home. She graduated from Cross Keys High School in DeKalb County, where she later taught.

Calinda Lee, vice president of historical interpretation and community partnerships at the history center, said in a statement that the center “came to this project with a commitment to work with communities to share history in ways that are locally relevant and useful. “

To help design an appropriate mural, the center consulted with the Latin American Association, Freedom University, the Latino Community Fund, and Plaza Fiesta, and also met with Buford Highway neighbors. “These are stakeholders in our collective past and future,” said Lee. “We all need to understand and value that history.”

Cambrón said “painting “Mi Gente” felt like “an act of gratitude to the community that welcomed me and contributed to my growth.”