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In local communities across Florida, humanities-rich programming is making a lasting impact in the hearts and minds of Sunshine State residents and visitors alike. Florida Humanities is proud to partner with local community champions to bring you high-quality public programming through Community Project Grants, Florida Talks, Museum on Main Street, and more.

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“Invisible Immigrants” Panel Discussion

December 9, 2022 @ 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm

The Ybor City Museum Society, in partnership with El Centro Español de Tampa, is presenting a lively panel discussion on Spanish immigration to Tampa in the late 1800s and early 1900s. As reflected in a new exhibit at the Ybor City Museum State Park entitled “Following Fernando’s Footsteps: A Tale of Tampa’s Invisible Immigrants,” Tampa had one of the largest and most cohesive community of Spanish immigrants in the United States during its early days. They began arriving in 1886, often driven by the cigar industry, and formed a Spanish colony in Tampa that is unique to all others in the U.S. The throngs in Tampa came via Cuba rather than directly from their homeland, as was customary in other parts of the U.S. Unique to Tampa, they did not have to insert themselves in a pre-existing economy and social order, rather they were the founders of their own community. They formed a Spanish-language culture in Ybor City and West Tampa, and their native tongue predominated those new areas of the city. These “Invisible Immigrants” were a powerful force in ushering in an era of “Modern Tampa.” From the palatial social clubs and massive cigar factories to the sprawling cemeteries and humble casitas built for cigar factory workers, the city is full of these remnants of-and mute witnesses to-a vast and vibrant Spanish enclave of unprecedented scale.

The distinguished panel of international and local experts and researchers will also provide opportunity for Q&A. Appropriately, the panel discussion will be held in El Centro Español de Tampa’s historic building in West Tampa, a grand example of the Spanish influence on Tampa’s architectural styles and cultural heritage. El Centro Español de Tampa is the oldest ethnic social club/mutual aid society in Tampa and one of the oldest in the United States.

This program is free to attend, but registration is suggested. Free parking is available adjacent to the building. The exhibition and related programming are funded in part through a Florida Humanities Community Project Grant in partnership with The Ybor City Museum Society.

Event Details

Event Date/time:

December 9, 2022 @ 6:00 pm -
December 9, 2022 @ 9:00 pm


Presenter Information:
Luis Argeo, Filmmaker and Journalist from Asturias, Spain; Maria Luque Larena, Director of Cultural Affairs, United States-Spain Council; Dr. Gary R. Mormino, Frank E. Duckwall Professor of History Emeritus, University of South Florida; The Honorable E.J. Salcines, Local Historian and Expert on Spanish Immigration; John Rañon, President, El Centro Español de Tampa; Tony Carreño, Local Historian and Author of "Fernando's Footsteps", Dr. James D. Fernandez, Professor at NYU, Project Consultant
Event Fee:
Event Type:
Event Registration Link:
Register Here

Event Contact:

Gina Bowen
(813) 247-1434

Event Venue:

Centro Español de Tampa
2306 N Howard Ave
Tampa, Florida 33607
+ Google Map
Venue Phone:
(813) 247-1434

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