PC making history with first-ever Latinx American Heritage Month keynote


Join us in celebrating LatinX American Heritage Month on September 15th at 7 p.m. via Zoom. Email Dr. Erin McAdams for more details.

Cassandra Gonzalez, Staff Writer

“LAUGH, WONDER, DISCOVER, and THINK!” — those are the watchwords for this year’s LatinX American Heritage Month festivities, according to organizer Dr. Erin McAdams, associate professor of political science at Presbyterian College.

She’s speaking of “The Trouble with My Name,” a one-man show featuring Dr. Javier Avila, the celebrated writer and professor of English at Northampton Community College. Avila’s performance will be streamed to the PC campus on Wednesday, Sept. 15, starting at 7 p.m., with “watch parties” hosted by faculty in H-P Amphitheater and Kuhne Auditorium in Neville Hall.

LatinX American Heritage Month, which runs from the 15th of September each year and ends on the 15th of October each year, is intended as a time of reflection, remembrance and, most importantly, celebration of all the ways LatinX communities have contributed to the cultural and social fabric from Los Angeles to Brooklyn and every locale in between.

One doesn’t have to look hard to see the wide and profound impact of the Hispanic world on U.S. history and culture, but the price of that distinct cultural footprint has sometimes been distinct. The goal of LatinX American Heritage month becomes clear: to see oneself and to see others. This sort of representation has been relatively rare; indeed, Avila’s appearance represents a first at PC.

“Avila was brought to our attention by Dr. Erin McAdams and our Political Science Department,” noted Rev. Racquel Gill, of the Office of Religious Life and Multicultural Community Engagement. The women were shocked when they realized “that we had never had an actual keynote speaker to celebrate LatinX Heritage Month.” 

“Dr. McAdams thought (Avila) would be perfect for such an occasion,” Gill added.

“When I came across Dr. Avila’s one-man show, I thought this would be an outstanding event to kick-off LatinX Heritage Month, and I’m so grateful to be working with Rev. Racquel Gill to coordinate this event!” McAdams said. “It’s amazing to have a nationally known and award-winning performer at PC to honor LatinX heritage and do so in such a powerful way.”

Gill and McAdams expressed the hope that the show would attract more attention to diverse cultures and experiences at PC. Whether or not you claim LatinX identity, there is a promise of enrichment, entertainment, and greater understanding.

“Events like these are very important as we seek to be a more inclusive and diverse campus. As more students come to campus who identify as Latino/Latina/LatinX, it is important that they have experiences at PC that honor the richness of their culture and give them space to celebrate their unique heritage. For those who exist outside of these cultures, these are unique opportunities to educate ourselves and become more understanding of the plight of others,” Gill explained.

 This show is for everyone regardless of one’s racial or ethnic identity to think about what it means to be ‘American’,” McAdams said — “and do so in a way that appreciates … all of our shared history together.”

“This is, by far, not an academic lecture — it’s a fun and thought-provoking performance for us to experience together,” Dr. McAdams concluded, urging students to come out and participate in the event. 

For those interested in attending one of the “watch parties” hosted by faculty members, be sure to RSVP to Dr. McAdams at [email protected] to attend via Zoom.

For those who want more information regarding Dr. Avila and his content, here is his website: https://www.javieravila.net/biografia