BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- While Buffalo is a city of rich and diverse ethnic groups, the impact the Hispanic community has had on the city often goes unnoticed. Casimiro Rodriguez is trying to change that.

As president emeritus of the Hispanic Heritage Council of Western New York, Rodriguez has helped put together the Hispanic History Project to ensure future generations know just how the culture helped shape the Queen City.

“Our ancestors, their experiences, where they came from, where did they live, work. What hardships did they encounter, and how did they succeed to what our community is today.”

A series of panels are set up at the Erie County Central Library where guests can see a timeline of the cultural impact Hispanics have made on Western New York and learn the story of changemakers both old and new.

“The Grease Pole Festival 1969 is one of the oldest ethnic festivals in Western New York, you got Hispanics United of Buffalo that provides human services, senior programs, all these organizations here in WNY.”

Juventino Mejia came from Mexico to Lackawanna over 50 years ago. He says the project gives him a sense of accomplishment and of pride knowing he’s helped build a community.

“It’s important for people to know because we were a part of the growth of this economic strength of this area. We were workers. We all came to work and we were productive and we’re part of the history of Western New York.”

The exhibit will be on display until the end of Hispanic Heritage Month on Thursday October 15th. You can also view it online here.

Kelly Khatib is a digital reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.