October 10, 2022

Latinx Conference Highlights Hispanic Heritage Month

conference latinxWith intergenerational relations as its theme, the 2022 Latinx Communities Conference drew students and others to Sykes Student Union on September 29. This 14th annual conference was the first to be held in person since 2019. It’s part of the University’s recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrated nationwide from September 15 to October 15 each year.

Experts from New Mexico Highlands University, UT Dallas, Marquette University as well as representatives of community organizations joined WCU presenters. WCU’s Latin Jazz Ensemble, directed by Marc Jacoby, associate professor of music and jazz studies coordinator, set the tone, playing a variety of numbers that had some participants dancing.

Keynote speaker Kat Lazo of Mitú Latino Media Company is pictured (center) with conference organizers Emily Aguiló-Pérez (left), Assistant Professor of English, and Daniela Johannes (right), Associate Professor languages and cultures and co-chair of both the WCU Multicultural Faculty Commission and the Greater Philadelphia Latin American Studies Consortium. Lazo, a Colombian-Peruvian New Yorker, has made a name for herself as the Internet’s no-nonsense Latina who tells it like it is. Her digital content production work has been featured in The Daily News, Huffpost, Latina Magazine and Buzzfeed. Sponsors of her appearance were Latin American and Latinx Studies; Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI); College of Arts and Humanities; College of Sciences and Mathematics; Dowdy Multicultural Center; and WCU Poetry Center.

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Two poets also presented:

  • Raina J. León is a Black and Afro-Boricua poet and educator. Originally from Philadelphia, she is a founding editor of The Acentos Review and a professor of education at Saint Mary’s College of California. Her first collection of poetry, Canticle of Idols (CW Books, 2008), was a finalist for both the Cave Canem First Book Poetry Prize and the Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize. She is also the author of Boogeyman Dawn (2013, Salmon Poetry), which was a finalist for the Naomi Long Madgett Prize; sombra : (dis)locate (Salmon Poetry, 2016); and the chapbook profeta without refuge (Nomadic Press, 2016), which was a finalist for the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses Firecracker award.
  • Yesenia Montilla is an Afro-Latina poet and a daughter of immigrants, born and raised in New York City. She is the author of Muse Found in a Colonized Body (Four Way Books, 2022) and The Pink Box (Aquarius Press, 2015) which was long-listed for the PEN Open Book award. A recipient of fellowships from CantoMundo and the New York Foundation for the Arts, her work has been published in Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day, Prairie Schooner, Gulf Coast, and in both the 2020 and 2021 editions of Best of American Poetry.

The 2022 Latinx Communities Conference Committee members are Chyna Hart, Dowdy Multicultural Center; Hiram Martinez, ODEI; Latino American Student Organization (LASO); Linda Stevenson, political science; Maria Urrutia, dance; Michele Belliveau, social work; Miguel Ceballos, sociology; and Yanira Rodríguez, English.

The following WCU organizations and offices contributed to the success of this conference: College of Education and Social Work; Department of Political Science; Institute of Race and Ethnic Studies; Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Latin American and Latinx Studies; Poetry Center; and the President’s Office.

Visit the conference website for more information or to get involved for next year.

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