Hispanic Heritage month begins this September 15 and during this month we celebrate and recognize the contributions that Hispanics have made in the culture of the United States.
When we speak of Hispanics or Latinos, we are referring to the nearly 60 million people in the United States who identify as such, whose roots are “of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish cultural origin, regardless of race.” .
Until 1968, Hispanic Heritage Week was celebrated in the United States, but in 1988, with President Ronald Reagan, it became a month of celebrations to highlight the history, language, future, and past of Latinos in the United States.
And among the Latino leaders who have contributed their contributions in the United States, are:
Sonia Sotomayor, born in New York in 1954, was the first Hispanic justice of the Supreme Court of the United States (2009), the first Hispanic person to be appointed to the judicial branch of New York, and the third woman to be appointed in the entire the history of the Supreme Court.
She is the daughter of Puerto Rican parents, who moved to the United States in the 1940s.
Between 1992 and 1998, she was nominated by President George HW Bush as an Associate Justice on the New York Southern District Court. The judge has been an adjunct professor at New York University School of Law and a professor of law at Columbia University.
She was just 18 years old when 17 of her classmates were killed in a shooting at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2017.
The experience led several of the students to become outspoken advocates for gun law reform, taking their cause to social media and organizing the March for Our Lives event in 2018.
Gonzalez, a Latin American of Cuban descent, delivered a powerful speech to hundreds of thousands of attendees and criticized politicians for their inaction on gun control law reform, repeating the words: “We call BS.”
He then fell silent for a tearful, heartbreaking six minutes and 20 seconds to time the Parkland killer’s shooting spree at the school.
Olmos is an award-winning actor, producer, writer, director, and activist. One of the most influential Mexican-American actors, he was the first Mexican-American to be nominated for a Golden Globe and the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for 1988’s “Stand and Deliver.”
Throughout his career, Olmos has helped found and support many non-profit organizations aimed at helping Latinos tell stories in the media. He received an award from the National Hispanic Media Coalition for his advocacy for Latinos.
Olmos advises Latinos to never stop pursuing their Hollywood dreams. “They must continue and not let the industry and the way things are right now stop them from trying to tell their stories and use their voice.”
Born in 1989 in the Bronx, New York, to a Puerto Rican family, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest woman to be elected to Congress, at the age of 29.
After a successful grassroots campaign that gained a great deal of support, AOC (as she is known) entered the US House of Representatives as Democratic Representatives from New York’s 14th District in January 2019, giving her gave national recognition.
AOC defends feminism, universal healthcare and the Jobs Guarantee work program, advocates ending the privatization of prisons and access to a free public university, is in favor of policies to control firearms and defends the abolition of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement).
A veteran astronaut, she was the director of the Johnson Space Center (JSC). She was the first Hispanic director of JSC and the second female director.
Ochoa joined NASA in 1988 as a research engineer at the Ames Research Center and moved to the Johnson Space Center in 1990 when she was selected as an astronaut.
She became the first Hispanic woman to go into space when she served on the nine-day STS-56 mission aboard Space Shuttle Discovery in 1993. She has flown into space four times and has logged nearly 1,000 hours in orbit.
6- Cesar Chavez
Born in Arizona in 1927 into a Mexican-American family, Cesar Chavez was a labor leader and civil rights activist.
As a worker in the fields of California, he was concerned about the rights of farmworkers. After serving in the Navy, he became involved with the Community Service Organization (CSO) in California, a leading civil rights organization for Latinos.
Along with Dolores Huerta, he co-founded the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) and led peaceful protests and marches to defend the civil rights of Latinos. Chavez was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and his legacy lives on today in the workers’ rights movements.
Cesar Chavez cannot be mentioned without also mentioning Dolores Huerta as one of the most influential Hispanic Americans for Latinos in the United States.
Born in New Mexico in 1930, Dolores would become a noted civil rights activist. She met Cesar Chavez in California while working for the CSO, and the two came together to form the NFWA in 1962.
Huerta is a recognized leader who led successful workers’ strikes and defended women’s rights. At 89 years old, she is the face of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, whose mission is to “inspire and organize communities to build empowered volunteer organizations to seek social justice.”
Sylvia Rivera was not only an influential Hispanic American, but an icon of the gay and transgender rights movements.
Born in New York City in 1951 and of Venezuelan and Puerto Rican descent, Rivera had a difficult upbringing, leaving home at the age of 10. She had to learn to fend for herself as she faced violence and discrimination and finally began the path of activism.
She met her friend Marsha P. Johnson and together they formed Street Travestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), which supported LGBTQIA+ youth in Manhattan. After the Stonewall riots in 1969, the couple worked with the newly founded Gay Liberation Front to fight for their civil rights.
Source: La Opinion