Los Amo, One Love
ARTIST: Artie Barksdale
Location: corner of Alston Avenue and East Main Street
The Los Primos mural, locally known as the Los Amos, One Love mural was painted by Artie Barksdale as part of the New Immigrants in Northeast Central Durham Project. Different from other areas of Durham that were impacted by segregation, the Northeast Central Durham area faced many changes in their community with the arrival of Latino immigrants.
Beginning in 1960, the United States saw an increase in Latino immigrants with an affinity towards the south. It was a combination of factors that pushed Latinos from Latin countries and those that pulled them towards the United States that created this increase. Conflicts in the Dominican Republic and the power of Fidel Castrol drove Latinos from their country while they were also drawn to the hope of a better life in the Land of Opportunity. The impact of their arrival was immense, changing the demographics and the social culture of Northeast Central Durham. Between 1990 and 1996 North Carolina had a 129% increase in their Latino community. By 1996 the NECD, previously 84% African American and 16% white, had an estimated 20% Latino community.
The New Immigrants in Northeast Central Durham Project explores the impact of immigration from the views of the black community and the Latino immigrants. The project highlighted the mixed reception of the new Latino population within the black community. For many African Americans their arrival was seen as an intrusion into their home and brought forth concerns of having a new, cheaper labor force. The new NECD area was a mix of ‘black and brown’ residents whose desire to maintain their own culture identity was challenged with the acceptance of new ones.
The mural that Barksdale painted is about and for the community. His love for the 80’s decade, with all its liveliness, influenced his art is reflected in the bright colors and lighthearted nature of piece. Sprawled across the mural in playful writing are the words ‘Los amo – one love’. In English, ‘Los amo’ means ‘I love them’ expressing a collective mentality and foreshadowing the idea of unity that is throughout the work. On top of the transitioning rainbow backdrop, the mural contains different scenes of life: a seated elderly woman with a group at her feet as if she is telling a story, two figures raising their interlocked hands, a musician, and a couple marveling over a star. One could view each scene as a portrayal of how unity can take shape within a diverse community. Barksdale has left the mural unsigned as a gift to Durham with his hope and belief that, “murals allow community members to start conversations and respect each other.”