Posted: 10/08/20

TAMIU Concludes Hispanic Heritage Month Activities with “500 Years of La Llorona” Virtual Story Presentation


Dr. Aaron Olivas  

Texas A&M International University’s (TAMIU) Sue and Radcliffe Killam Library Special Collections and Archives hosted a virtual presentation and retelling of the famous story of “La Llorona” this past Thursday, Oct. 15. 

The online event, titled, “Hispanic Heritage Storytime: Tales from the Border – 500 Years of La Llorona” was livestreamed on the Sue and Radcliffe Killam Library’s Facebook page. View the livestreamed event at https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=555666545238075 

The virtual presentation marks the conclusion of TAMIU’s observation of Hispanic Heritage Month. 

Co-sponsored by the TAMIU Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity Committee (TIDE), “500 Years of La Llorona”  focuses on various retellings of one of the most popular folktales from Latin America, with particular emphasis on the evolution of the story as it spread throughout the México-U.S. Borderlands, said Dr. Aaron Olivas, presenter and TAMIU associate professor of History.

“The versions featured in the October 15 event are taken from rare books at the Killam Library collected by archivist Jeanette Hatcher,” Dr. Olivas said, “She and l read these stories live and offer historical context on the complex regional and ethnic influences that have continuously reshaped the story.”

In Latin American folklore, La Llorona is a ghost who roams waterfront areas mourning her drowned children. In a typical version of the legend, a woman named Maria marries a rich man with whom she has two children. One day, Maria sees her husband with another woman and in a fit of rage, she drowns their children, which she immediately regrets. Unable to save them, she drowns herself as well, but is unable to enter the afterlife without her children.

The choice of recognizing the legacy of La Llorona is particularly momentous this year, Olivas explained.

“The story of La Llorona can be traced to the Conquest of México, and the year 2020 marks the 500th  Anniversary of Hernán Cortés’ final siege of México-Tenochtitlán,” he said, “Indigenous oral history of that traumatic defeat along with the blending of Spanish, African, and even Norteño traditions has made her tale quintessentially Latinx.”

The virtual event is also inspired by the phenomenon of “library story time” that has become a trend during the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Olivas said.

For more information about “500 Years of La Llorona,” contact Dr. Olivas at 956.326.2593, email  aaron.olivas@tamiu.edu or visit TAMIU’s Diversity and Inclusion website.