Dr. David Carrasco Delivers Hispanic Heritage Keynote Address


The Latin American Student Organization (LASO) hosted Colgate’s Hispanic Heritage Month keynote speech in Love Auditorium on Thursday, September 25. Dr. David Carrasco of the Harvard Divinity School, one of the country’s foremost experts on Mesoamerican religion and history, delivered the lecture titled “Latino Springtime and the New Democracy.” Carrasco’s speech dealt with a wide variety of topics ranging from reasons for Hispanic pride to the changing demographics of the Hispanic community. 

Carrasco began his speech by reaching out to an audience member for a placard that read “Community not Conformity,” and began to speak about how the new demographics in the U.S. and at Colgate should lead to what he described as a “renewed democracy.”

“It couldn’t have worked out better for me to come to Colgate this week. I’m preaching to the choir, and the choir is preaching back to me through their actions,” Carrasco said, referring to the multi-day sit-in led by the

Association of Critical Collegians. He went on to advocate that as we fight, we ensure that we are not fighting only for our own groups, but for everyone.

 “What he said during his speech about the silent-majority and being a good listener made me want to go down to the sit-in, if only to hear what they were saying,” junior Christian Quattrociocchi said. 

Carrasco also said it was important that Hispanics knew the struggle African Americans faced for freedom in this country. He credited the combustion sparked by the civil rights movement with leading to a host of new ideas, changes and laws in the country. As the demographics continue to change, he hopes a similar sort of combustion will occur over issues like immigration and education in the Hispanic community.

 “Not only is [education] a space to learn new knowledge but also it’s a level playing field we can get into and mix it up,” Carrasco said. 

Quoting Carlos Fuentes, Carrasco encouraged Hispanics to “imagine the past and remember their future.” 

Carrasco urged Hispanics to imagine the past because he believes that the history of Hispanics is incomplete. Many of the records of the Indigenous Americans were destroyed when Europeans colonized the region so it takes some imagination to truly unearth the history of Hispanic people. In remembering the future, Carrasco wants Hispanics to realize that they have complex origins comprised of influences from Indigenous Americans, Africans and Europeans, groups that are often

excluded from their origin story. 

“Remembering means putting back the descendants of these people who have been dismembered, who have been forgotten,” Carrasco said.

In closing, Carrasco advocated for shaping the world in which we live  through our actions. He concluded with some words of advice, which he called “Choices of Hope,” to the entire Colgate Community.

Carrasco encouraged Hispanics to organize with others to do good in the world, fight for all groups, attract mentors, dare to know their own history, plan their own economy and find happiness in the midst of struggles. 

 Senior Michael Ignatius Arcilla Ng left the speech with an increased appreciation for the contributions of the Latin American community as well as a new perspective on race issues.

 “As demographics continue to change I think it is important that we stop seeing race as a black versus white issue and begin to see it as a series of issues that include us all,” Ng said. 

Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15 to October 15. LASO has scheduled many upcoming events to commemorate Hispanic heritage.