Jacksonville Historical Society documenting local Hispanic history

We're continuing to celebrate Hispanic Heritage month, one voice at a time. Today we will look into how the Jacksonville Historical Society is documenting the history of Hispanic communities across the River City.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Celebrating Hispanic Heritage month, one voice at a time.

The Jacksonville Historical Society is documenting the history of Hispanic communities across the River City.

“What better way to document Latino voices, than to get voices from the community so that’s what I did,” said Rebecca Dominguez-Karimi, Oral Historian and Florida Humanities Council Speaker.

Dominguez-Karimi is working with the Jacksonville Historical Society to record and share the untold stories of Hispanic communities across the city. She hopes this means their history won’t be lost or forgotten.

“Voces de Hispanos Oral History Project and it will become part of the collections at the Jacksonville Historical Society, and it will be stored in their archives,” said Dominguez-Karimi.

Mario Decunto, licensed mental health counselor and participant, said this has never been done before now.

“You know Hispanic heritage being documented in Jacksonville has never been done before,” said Decunto. “And, you know, the Hispanic culture here... there’s really no footprint. This is monumental for folks here in Jacksonville now and in the future. Children who are going to be establishing themselves here in Jacksonville, growing up, can now have a record of maybe even their own family members and being identified as part of Jacksonville and feeling like we belong.”

These are a few of the many other voices featured in this project, with some of their stories dating back to the 1960s.

Dominguez-Karimi originally wanted to get 30 participants, but she surpassed that with 46. Her next goal is 100.

She said this series also marks an important milestone.

Jacksonville’s Hispanic population reached 11%, according to the latest census. A number that shows their culture is continuing to blossom across the River City.

“When people first came here there weren’t any restaurants, grocery stores, nothing,” said Dominguez-Karimi. “They had to travel down to Miami to do their shopping. Now I spoke with one woman who on her first day here found a Colombian restaurant on her iPhone, went there, and was immediately immersed in the soccer finals. So that’s how the experience is different now.”

The Jacksonville Historical Society will hold a speaker series on the project next Thursday, Oct. 14. This event isn’t open to the public, but these stories will be placed in the society’s archives.