This page includes information about just a few of the people, research, and creative works with Hispanic connections that have inspired us – and we hope they will inspire you throughout the year!
About Cesar Chavez [Cesar Chavez Foundation]
Cesar Chavez was a civil rights, Latino and farm labor leader; a genuinely religious and spiritual figure; a community organizer and social entrepreneur; a champion of militant nonviolent social change; and a crusader for the environment and consumer rights. A first-generation American, he was born on March 31, 1927 near his family’s small homestead outside Yuma, Arizona. At age 11, his family lost their farm during the Great Depression and became migrant farm workers. Cesar finished his formal education after the eighth grade and worked the fields full-time to help support his family. Throughout his youth and into adulthood, Cesar traveled the migrant streams throughout California laboring in the fields, orchards and vineyards where he was exposed to the hardships and injustices of farm worker life.
Christiana Figueres is an internationally recognized leader on global climate change. She was Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 2010-2016. Since then Ms. Figueres has continued to accelerate the global response to climate change. Today she is the co-founder of Global Optimism, co-host of the podcast “Outrage & Optimism” and is the co-author of the recently published book, “The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis". She is a member of the B Team and a non executive Board member of ACCIONA and ACCIONA Energía. She is the Chair of The Earthshot Prize Foundation.
Co-founder of the United Farm Workers Association, Dolores Clara Fernandez Huerta [WomensHistory.org] is one of the most influential labor activists of the 20th century and a leader of the Chicano civil rights movement. In 1955 Huerta began her career as an activist when she co-founded the Stockton chapter of the Community Service Organization (CSO), which led voter registration drives and fought for economic improvements for Hispanics. She also founded the Agricultural Workers Association. Through a CSO associate, Huerta met activist César Chávez, with whom she shared an interest in organizing farm workers. In 1962, Huerta and Chávez founded the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA), the predecessor of the United Farm Workers’ Union (UFW), which formed three year later. Huerta served as UFW vice president until 1999.
NASA Astronaut Dr. Ellen Ochoa, a veteran astronaut, was the 11th director of the Johnson Space Center. She was JSC's first Hispanic director, and its second female director. Her previous management roles include Deputy Center Director and Director of Flight Crew Operations. Ochoa joined NASA in 1988 as a research engineer at Ames Research Center and moved to Johnson Space Center in 1990 when she was selected as an astronaut. She became the first Hispanic woman to go to space when she served on the nine-day STS-56 mission aboard the space shuttle Discovery in 1993. She has flown in space four times, logging nearly 1,000 hours in orbit.
NASA celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month by recognizing the countless contributions of Hispanic/Latinx employees--get to know some of them!
An American journalist, television newscaster, and author, Ifill was the first African-American woman and the first Afro-Latina to host a nationally televised U.S. public affairs program. She worked for the Boston Herald American, the Baltimore Evening Sun, and in 1984 she moved to Washington, D.C., to work for the Washington Post. In 1991, Gwen Ifill accepted a position as a White House correspondent for the New York Times. She went on to NBC News in 1994 and worked in the Washington, D.C. bureau as chief Congressional and political correspondent. In 1999, Ifill became the moderator and managing editor of PBS’s Washington Week and senior political correspondent for PBS NewsHour. She was the first African American woman and Afro-Latina to host a prominent political talk show on national television.
The Hispanic Heritage Foundation identifies, inspires, prepares, and connects Latino Leaders in the community, classroom, and workforce. Established by the White House in 1988, the Hispanic Heritage Foundation (HHF) is an award-winning nonprofit that identifies, inspires, prepares and positions Latino leaders in the classroom, community and workforce to meet America’s priorities. HHF promotes cultural pride, accomplishment and the great promise of the community through public awareness campaigns seen by millions.
Jamie Margolin [Bioneers.org], an 18-year-old Colombian-American organizer, author and public speaker, is one of the most effective and dynamic youth climate activists of our time. She co-founded the highly effective and dynamic international youth climate justice movement, Zero Hour, which has over 200+ chapters worldwide, has penned many op-ed pieces for a range of publications, and is the author of: Youth To Power: Your Voice and How To Use It. Zero Hour is a youth-led movement creating entry points, training, and resources for new young activists and organizers (and adults who support our vision) wanting to take concrete action around climate change.
Born in Spain, where he learned the craft of cooking first from his parents and then in the kitchen of Ferran Adrià’s groundbreaking avant-garde restaurant elBulli – José Andrés immigrated to the United States in 1991, first to New York City and later to Washington, D.C., where he and his partners established a group of restaurants that has earned countless fans and won numerous awards over the years.
José holds close both his identity as a Spanish immigrant and an American citizen, placing upon himself the responsibility of both culinary ambassador and immigrant representing the two nations. He is a visionary and a humanitarian, establishing World Central Kitchen in 2010 as a means for feeding the many – using culinary training programs to empower communities and strengthen economies as well as food disaster relief in the wake of emergencies around the globe.
A Pulitzer Prize, Grammy, Emmy, Tony Award-winning composer, lyricist, and actor, Lin-Manuel Miranda is the creator and original star of Broadway’s Hamilton and In the Heights, and the recipient of the 2015 MacArthur Foundation Award and 2018 Kennedy Center Honors. Mr. Miranda, and The Miranda Family, are active supporters of initiatives that increase the representation of people of color throughout the arts and government, ensure access to women’s reproductive health, and promote resilience in Puerto Rico. He lives with his family in New York. To learn more, read about how Lin-Manuel Miranda has another role: as an emerging political activist.
Mamá Tingó [BE Latina] was born Florinda Muñoz Soriano in the Dominican Republic on November 8th, 1921. Mamá Tingó was a farmer, revolutionary, and activist for farmers and financially poor people in the Dominican Republic. After generations of cultivating the land in the Hato Viejo region of island, the farmers were told that the land had been repurchased/reclaimed by a rich business person, Pablo Díaz Hernández, and that they needed to vacate the property.
Mamá Tingó saw it of paramount importance to organize the families and people that lived on the land so that they would have a united front when dealing with Díaz Hernández and the people he used to intimidate the farmers. She organized meetings where they would discuss ways to deal with the violence, crop share, and multiple strategies to deal with the land grab taking place. Today the region of Hato Viejo is simultaneously referred to as “Mamá Tingó” and films have been made about her life.
Rita Moreno [PBS] is an actor, singer and dancer who established her career in the waning days of the Hollywood star system, often playing stereotyped roles that the studios felt suited her Puerto Rican background. In the face of this, she is the only person alive to have received the EGOT as a performer. EGOT is an acronym that stands for the four major awards that an artist can win in the entertainment industry: the Emmy, the Grammy, the Oscar and the Tony. To excel in all four disciplines of stage, screen, television and music is a rare feat, and over the years only 16 people have been able to accomplish this.
Roberto Enrique Clemente Walker is one of the greatest athletes and humanitarians of the 20th century. For the people of Puerto Rico, he is one of the ultimate symbols of national pride, not just for the records he set but for the lives he touched with his activism. Born August 18, 1934 Roberto started his career with the Puerto Rican Professional Baseball League at just 17 years old. The Dodgers offered Roberto a $5,000 salary with $10,000 bonus to sign with them in 1954. Melchor told a local newspaper that, if the Dodgers didn’t pay him sufficiently, Roberto would study engineering in Mayagüez instead.
In 2009, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor [National Museum of the American Latino] broke boundaries by becoming the first Hispanic and the third woman to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States [Oyez.org], the highest court in the country. Sotomayor was born in New York City to Puerto Rican parents. She grew up in the Bronxdale-Houses, a public housing project in the Bronx. Through perseverance and determination, she received degrees from Princeton University and Yale Law School. As a Supreme Court Justice she has ruled to uphold the Affordable Care Act and legalize same-sex marriage.
Sylvia Rivera [National Women's History Museum] was born in New York City in 1951 to a father from Puerto Rico and a mother from Venezuela. A veteran of the 1969 Stonewall Inn uprising, Rivera was a tireless advocate for those silenced and disregarded by larger movements. Throughout her life, she fought against the exclusion of transgender people, especially transgender people of color, from the larger movement for gay rights. The Sylvia Rivera Law Project continues her legacy, working to guarantee “all people are free to self-determine their gender identity and expression, regardless of income or race, and without facing harassment, discrimination, or violence. In 2019, New York City announced plans for a monument dedicated to Rivera and good friend Marsha P. Johnson. It will be the city’s—and according to New York City, the world’s—first monument dedicated to transgender individuals.
Vanessa Hauc [ClimateOne] is an Emmy Award-winning journalist and anchor of the "Noticias Telemundo Fin de Semana." Hauc has traveled to Rome two times to lead a conversation between Pope Francis and children from countries affected by natural disasters. Her passion for environmental issues inspired her to create the “Alerta Verde” segment to inform and educate the community about the importance of protecting our planet. Today she is leading the investigative unit on environmental issues at Telemundo Network “Planeta Tierra”.
X González [Wikipedia] is an American activist and advocate for gun control. In 2018, they survived the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, the deadliest high school shooting in U.S. history, and, in response, co-founded the gun-control advocacy group Never Again MSD. González gave a viral speech against gun violence, proclaiming "We call B.S." on the lack of action by politicians funded by the NRA. Subsequently, González continued to be an outspoken activist on gun control, making high-profile media appearances and helping organize the March for Our Lives. Speaking at the demonstration, González led a moment of silence for the victims of the massacre; they stood on stage for six minutes, which they observed was the length of the shooting spree itself.