Celebrated between September 15 to October 15, Hispanic Heritage Month honors the cultures and histories of people in the US who came from, or whose ancestors came from, the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, South America, and Spain. This years theme “Esperanza: A Celebration of Hispanic Heritage and Hope” is a story well-known in the Hispanic community. It highlights how steep challenges emulate how great our tomorrow can be if we hold onto resilience and hope.
Take time to reflect on all of the contributions Hispanics have made in the past, consider how many more contributions will continue to be made in the future, and remember that we are stronger when we work together.
Here are a few examples of Hispanic-Americans that have made enormous contributions to the U.S. in every aspect of society:
- Hector P. Garcia a US Army officer who served in World War II, earning six Bronze Stars for his efforts. His biggest battle perhaps was fighting for the rights of a fallen Hispanic solider to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
- Cesar Chavez, a labor leader and civil rights activist who cofounded the National Farm Workers Association and fought for the rights of farm workers.
- Sylvia Mendez, an American civil rights activist.
- Roberto Clemente, a Baseball Hall of Famer, who died in a plane crash from Puerto Rico to Nicaragua to assist with earthquake relief.
- Sonia Sotomayor became the first Hispanic to serve as Supreme Court Justice in 2009.
- Juan Felipe Herrera, the 21st U.S. Poet Laureate and the first Mexican American Poet Laureate.
- Ellen Ochoa was the first Hispanic Director of the NASA Johnson Space Center.
- Cesar Millan, the most famous dog behaviorist around the world.
- Sylvia Rivera, was an LGBTQ rights pioneer.
- Check out more examples on the New Mexico PBS special lineup celebrating Hispanic and Latino heritage and culture month.
As we reflect on these accomplishments, we are reminded that New Mexico is a minority/majority multicultural state where despite high numbers of racial minorities we still see significant disparities across our diverse populations. It is up to all of us to work to reduce barriers so people can thrive.