The evening of Wednesday, September 30, students gathered in McDaniel Lounge to welcome Joe Hernandez-Kolski, McDaniel’s Latino Heritage Month Keynote Speaker.
The Emmy-Award winner and two-time HBO Def Poet, Joe Hernandez-Kolski, grew up with a Polish father and a Mexican mother. He attended a predominantly Black high school in Chicago and graduated from Princeton University, where he worked closely with respected academics Dr. Cornel West and Nobel Prize Winner Toni Morrison.
Prior to his performance, Joe walked around the room, introducing himself to the crowd and trying to learn a little bit more about their stories. His warm personality and bright smile made it easy for him to connect with the students present.
The evening was full of laughs and joy as Joe shared his life experiences with the crowd in a very comedic way. He opened up hi performance by explaining his heritage. One of the very first questions that came up during this section of his performance was the language barrier.
“Speaking Spanish was the coolest thing ever,” exclaimed Joe in regards to the use of Spanish in the house.
Joe’s dialogue then shifted into the topic of identity and how he identified himself during high school and college. “Our identities are a bit more complicated than that” explained Joe. “I always identified myself as half Latino, but you very often feel you’re not Latino enough.”
After a few more stories from his past experiences, Joe enlightened the crowd with his personal top ten words of advice. He admitted that in each of his performances, he tries to make everyone’s lives better, even by just a little bit.
The performance was co-sponsored by McDaniel’s Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs and the Hispanic-Latino Alliance.