Latinos are now publishing scores of Spanish-language papers in communities large and small, and a number of all-Spanish radio stations and television channels have appeared in major cities. Public libraries are adding to their Spanish-language collections, and the number of Spanish-language courses has mushroomed in high schools and universities. On Sundays, Protestant and Catholic churches alike offer services in Spanish, and a number of Protestant churches attended predominantly by Latinos have appeared.
South Carolina’s culture is also enriched by the addition of new traditions and festivities such as quinceaheras, Dla de la Virgin de Guadalupe, Cinco de Mayo, and Dla de los Muertos, among others. It is perhaps during Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 to October 15) that various elements of Hispanic culture are most visible to non-Hispanic South Carolinians. Latino social organizations in the larger cities across the state host festivals that feature salsa, merengue, bachata, reggaeton, norteha, ranchera, cumbia, and other types of Latino music, and a number of folkloric groups travel the state to perform Colombian, Mexican, Cuban, and Peruvian dances. During Hispanic Heritage Month, food vendors sell tamales, pastels, arroz con gandules, tostones, and other favorites to Latinos and curious non-Hispanic festivalgoers alike.
Another visible element of Latino culture is related to sporting events. Public parks across South Carolina are sites of futbol (soccer) practice and games on weekends; partly as a result of this exposure to the sport, the popularity of soccer has increased in public schools statewide. In some communities, a Mexican form of horse racing (in which only two horses compete on a straight length of track) also has become popular.
Colombian children march in the Colombian Independence Day Parade, Greenville, 2006. Courtesy of Myriam Torres.
The growth of the state’s Latino population and increased exposure to the food, music, language, sports, and traditions of Latin American countries will continue to shape local culture and society hopefully to the point where places such as South of the Border will become even more anachronistic.
1. Lamar, 1-17.
2. The following demographic information is based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 1990 and 2000 censuses, and American Community Survey 2005, as calculated by Elaine Lacy.
4. U.S. Department of Labor.