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New Latino Arts Project exhibit explores the legacy of slavery in Mexico

New Latino Arts Project exhibit explores the legacy of slavery in Mexico 02:18

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Across borders, artists are collaborating to tell a different story about slavery and the fight for freedom woven through communities unaware of the shared history.  

The Latino Arts Project exhibit called "Yanga: Journeys to Freedom" debuts Saturday at the African American Museum at Fair Park. 

"Right now, today, there is a town called Nacimiento de los Negros, that there are 550 direct descendants of American slaves that formed this community," said Jorge Baldor with the Latino Arts Project. "And so, their traditions are formed and passed down through hymns."

With freedom as a unifying theme-- past, present, and future-- the exhibit's north star is Gaspar Yanga.  An African prince, he was taken as a slave to Veracruz, Mexico in 1570.

He escaped, led a slave revolt, and built one of the first freed slave communities in the Americas.  His story, until recently, went untold.  And some prefer the silence.

"And so, in Mexico, you have the revisionist history about the Yanga story, saying that it didn't occur," says Baldor.  "And so well, we went to a city called Cordova, which is where the original act of foundation for the city San Lorenzo de los Negros, and we have it here. And so, this is the proof that the city existed."

And the art of the descendants of those slaves now telling a story that many would rather deny.

"Educated people in Mexico believe there was no slave experience in Mexico," said Baldor, "because they've never heard it, it's not discussed."

But now both the art and the history are being shared.  

The exhibit officially opens on Saturday with a free community celebration at 6:00 with live music and food trucks. The event is free, but guests are asked to RSVP if they plan to attend.

Organizers say there is so much to see, learn and experience that they expect to have guests coming back for months as the exhibit with interactive portions will be constantly changing.

"We want people to have so much fun that they don't know they're learning," said Baldor about the exhibit that he says aims to educate as well as inspire.

"Freedom is not always given, and it's hard to keep."

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