SAN ANTONIO — In the heart of the west side, there is a place you can go, to find the stories of this community. They are the voices of Latino authors, whose ancestral history in this portion of Texas dates back hundreds of years.
“People are thirsty for this," Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, Executive Director, Cristina Balli said. “People know that they’re going to walk in and just get a shock full of information on books and knowledge where they can deepen their understanding on the culture."
The Guadalupe Latino Bookstore, which opened less than a year ago, is a branch of the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center.
The hope for Executive Director, Cristina Balli, was to expand the center's literature program, which has fallen short over the years.
“This is special probably because there are only a handful of specifically Latino bookstores in the entire country," Balli said. "And I know there is not another Latino bookstore or Latinx bookstore in the state of Texas, so these are rare.”
Shelves filled with books written in both English and Spanish.
For the Aguirre family, some of the context of these stories sound familiar.
“It definitely made me feel happy when I came inside the store and saw all the Mexican stuff, all these books about Mexican history," Antonio Aguirre said.
For mom, Andrea Aguirre, this culturally specific bookstore is another chance to expose her boys on their heritage.
"I want them to see themselves and to read about themselves … I want them to come in and feel like I really matter and a lot of the things we have done really matter, Andrea Aguirre said "Seeing those in an environment where we are not having to search out one book at those big stores. That’s really important.”
“Right now we are going back to some of the times where some of this information and knowledge about our culture and our history is being suppressed," Balli said. "We are seeing how the Texas Legislature is trying to bring some books under attack. We have seen this in other states.”
The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, providing a central place where the public can discover new titles, and a space Latino authors know they can take their books.
“We will be the center for independent presses in Texas. We know that Latino authors have a hard time getting published. It’s hard to get published period, for anybody. For people of color even more so,” Balli said.
It's a cultural gem to add to this already growing catalog of Latino voices and experiences.
The hours for the Guadalupe Latino Bookstore, located at the corner of Guadalupe and Brazos streets, are Tuesday- Saturday from 12:00 - 6:00 p.m.
On March 4th, they will begin their author series, where every first Friday of the month an author will be doing a reading and book signing.