‘Undocumented’ author Dan-el Padilla Peralta to deliver Hispanic Heritage Month lecture Oct. 15

Dan-el Padilla Peralta

Dan-el Padilla Peralta, author of the memoir Undocumented: A Dominican Boy’s Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League, will deliver the Hispanic Heritage Month Speaker lecture at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 15, in Sarratt Cinema. This program is free and open to the public.

Peralta, a Princeton University classics professor who identifies as Dominican, immigrated to the United States when he was 4 years old. The Association of Latin American Students, or ALAS, is sponsoring the event in partnership with many campus organizations.

The lecture is part of the Vanderbilt community’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, which began Sept. 15 and ends Oct. 15 and featured a series of events across campus, including celebrations, lectures and visiting speakers. The 30-day period, which is observed nationally, recognizes Hispanic and Latinx histories, cultures and contributions.

ALAS at Sabor Latino 2018

Many of the Hispanic Heritage Month programs this year were sponsored by ALAS. This student organization, formerly known as Vanderbilt Association of Hispanic Students, recently changed its name to be more inclusive of a broader array of identities, including students with ties to Brazil, Afro-Latinx culture and indigenous populations of the region.

Gabby Rivera and Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion James Page (Anne Rayner/Vanderbilt)

A highlight of Hispanic Heritage Month was a visit by Gabby Rivera. Rivera is the award-winning writer of Juliet Takes a Breath and the Marvel Comics series America, which features the first queer, Latinx teen-girl superhero. Latinx, a term often used in lieu of Latino or Latina, is a more inclusive term that encompasses multiple identities, including race, gender and culture. During her visit, Rivera gave a keynote centered on the importance of empowering diverse voices to tell their own stories and cultivating radical creativity and joy. She also held a meet-and-greet breakfast and led an interactive writer’s workshop with students, faculty and staff.

The Sept. 15 start date for Hispanic Heritage Month coincides with the Independence Day celebrations of five Latin American countries, including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile observe their independence on Sept. 16 and 18, respectively.