Something historic is happening in Dallas Thursday night.
February is Black History Month and the Meyerson Symphony Hall is celebrating that by recognizing a rare and little known culture: Afro-Mexican.
The hall is hosting an artistic performance called Afro-Mexican Celebration: A Shared Cultural Journey. The program is presented by Mercado369, a local art initiative featuring rare traditions from Latin America.
Program producer and Mercado369 founder Jorge Baldor said the fact that the Meyerson -- a huge venue in Dallas -- is hosting the first-ever Afro-Mexican celebration in the city, is a big deal to the more than 1.3 million people who identify with this culture.
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“So what we can provide is not us telling their story but letting them tell their own story through this venue. Which I think is so important because a lot of times when we start studying different parts of the world, we take our own lens. So we’re letting it come through their eyes," he told NBC 5 during a dress rehearsal this week.
Alejandra Robles, an Afro-Mexican singer and dancer famous in Mexico and all over the world for her dance and musical performances is now sharing her culture for the first time here in the United States with this performance in Dallas.
“I am an Afro-Mexican singer, descended from the slaves that arrived to Mexico with the Spanish conquistadors. So it’s something big for me," said Robles.
The program will also feature poetry, spoken word, and dozens of art pieces in the largest curation of Afro-Mexican art in a single show.
Afro-Mexican is a minority culture in Mexico, one that Baldor said has been systematically overlooked for hundreds of years. And if you've never heard of it before, that's because of how history played out in the region of Mexico it came from.
"For about 300 years, they’ve been in more of the mountainous areas of southern part of the Pacific coast. And intentionally, they were there as a place for runaway slaves and freed slaves that wanted a place to be in the community. So they’ve been so out of sight for 300 years that they still maintain a lot of the customs, the festivals, the dances the music," said Baldor.
In fact, the culture wasn't even recognized on the Mexico census until this year. So to be represented in a large, U.S. venue is groundbreaking.
“I think we are in an era now that we are told what we should be thinking about our neighbors, and other people around the world. And I think as we experience it ourselves we realize that that’s not necessarily the case. The humanity that comes from what we’re seeing in the art culture and history I think it unites us in a way that nothing else has," Baldor said.
Some African words have even carried over into the language of that region.
These traditions have stayed pretty isolated for hundreds of years, but really started to surge in awareness from the rest of the world in just the last decade.
“I’m going to tell you something, it doesn’t matter if you are not from one country. Because music is so powerful that it can break all the walls. All the lines can be broken from the music," said Robles.
Here's the details on the event:
When: Thursday, Feb. 6 at 6 p.m.
Where: Meyerson Symphony Hall in Dallas
Presented by Mercado369
Proceeds from this event goes to After8 to Educate, which supports unsheltered DISD high school students and homeless youth in North Texas.