What is Highway Inmigrante?
Highway Inmigrante is a photographic collection by Victoria García. This collection of photographs highlights the depth of Latinx culture in Georgia featuring images of spirituality like the Virgin Mary, photos of anti-racism protests, food and jewelry significant to multiple Latinx cultures, and photos of life for many undocumented Latinxs.
Victoria García is a Chicana Graphic designer and visual artist from Doraville, GA. As mentioned on her website, García has been inspired and impacted by the community she grew up in, one of Georgia’s most diverse communities located near Buford Highway, a corridor located in the northeastern metro-Atlanta region, stretching from DeKalb County into Gwinnett County.
The stretch of highway is home to a diverse cultural hub of foods, languages, and communities. The area is sprinkled with many immigrant-owned stores and restaurants catering to a predominantly working-class immigrant community of Latin American and Asian descent.
Culture, art, music, and lots of authentic food “featuring 1,000 ethnic businesses representing 21 nations,” enrich the space and are also home to immigrant organizations like, Los Vecinos de Buford Highway,GLAHR, the Center for Pan Asian Community Services and the Latin American Association.
In addition to creating this collection of photographs, García has worked with other local community members to form the Buford Highway People’s Hub. The collective has hosted escuelitas, workshops, conferences, assembled care packages, and coordinated mutual aid resources for the community nearby.
Their first annual conference was held in June as a “labor of love for community [meant] to bring together BIPOC youth from schools around Atlanta and provide them liberatory education and tools to self organize.” This conference featured organizations like Mariposas Rebeldes to lead workshops on food autonomy, transformative justice, and mutual aid.
García describes this collective as “what it looks like to exist outside of the nonprofit industrial complex and share resources, knowledge, skills, and care with one another.”
The photograph above is one of the images in the collection Highway Inmigrante, and in this photograph García shows the construction of a new police building. Under this photograph García makes the following statement:
“Thinking of this newly built police fortress that looms over the Peachtree Creek Greenway in Brookhaven — one of few areas where BIPOC immigrant families in the area can have open space for some recreation and exercise. When the Greenway was freshly opened, efforts were made to show that it was accessible, open, and welcoming for all community members. Having a constant reminder of state surveillance (especially in immigrant communities) means quite the opposite.”
A few of the photographs in the collection include street art of the Virgin Mary. Catholicism has a prevalent role in Latinx culture, and García describes this image as “[The] symbol of our gente’s spirituality, dotted all along the main vein of home — Buford Highway.”
Another photo of the collection is one called, Sandía Season (watermelon season). “Summertime means sandía season — this family of farm workers pick watermelons in South Georgia and, like many others, set up their own puesto out of their truck to sell produce along the highway.” García’s photography for Highway Inmigrante highlights the Latinx community that exists there in all its forms, and in this photograph she is showing the people themselves, the workers, families, and their si se puede mindset.
Flor Chavez Barriga is an undergraduate student at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, GA studying History and Sociology with a focus on research. She was born in Michoacan, Mexico, and grew up in Atlanta surrounded by the rich history of Martin Luther King’s legacy. She previously attended Freedom University where she was given the opportunity to achieve higher education, while also learning about collective action and human rights. Flor is passionate about the south’s reaction to immigration with its restrictive policies and infamous detention centers. She hopes to highlight the voices of communities in the south that have helped combat all the hurdles that continue making immigrant lives harder.