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As many of you are already aware, National Hispanic Heritage Month occurs annually from the 15th of September through to the 15th of October.
The month is an opportunity to celebrate the contributions, cultures, histories, and lives of Hispanic people whose who came from or whose ancestors came from all parts of the world.
It will probably come as no surprise to you that this month is very close to my heart, and to help us all celebrate, I wanted to highlight some incredible Hispanic American Immigrants and their work.
Hispanic Heritage Month Theme for 2022
The theme for the month this year is Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation.
Focusing on the strength, benefits, and contributions that Hispanic individuals and families make across our communities. Diverse, inclusive communities are vital for the success of all.
5 Notable Hispanic American Immigrants to Celebrate
Condensing this list down to only five individuals was VERY challenging, and of course, there are hundreds of amazing people supporting our communities and doing incredible things. See this list as simply a starting point, and do keep exploring!
1. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Youngest Woman Elected to Congress Ever
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was born in 1989 in the Bronx, New York, to Puerto Rican parents. She successfully ran a grassroots campaign that won significant support and led to her entering the US House of Representatives for New York’s 14th district in January 2019 – the youngest woman to do so ever at the age of 29.
2. Ellen Ochoa, NASA Research Engineer & First Hispanic American Woman to Go to Space
Ellen Ochoa made history when she became the first Hispanic American woman to go to space in 1993 on a nine-day mission aboard the Discovery shuttle.
Ochoa’s grandparents were Mexican immigrants who settled in California to start a family. Ochoa was born in 1958 and would grow up to pursue a bachelor’s degree in physics. She would then obtain her master’s and a doctorate in engineering, both from Stanford University. Ochoa joined NASA in 1988 as an engineer, becoming an astronaut in 1990.
After her first mission in 1993, Ochoa completed three more missions and became the Johnson Space Center’s first Hispanic director.
3. Cesar Chavez, Labor Leader and Civil Rights Activist
Cesar Chavez was born in 1927 to a Mexican-American family and started his working life as a manual laborer, becoming concerned with farm workers’ rights. Following service in the Navy, Chavez joined the Community Service Organization (CSO) – a civil rights organization for Latine people.
Chavez went on to co-found the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) with Dolores Huerta – another notable Hispanic American civil rights activist, advocating for Latine civil rights through peaceful protests and marches.
4. Sylvia Rivera, Civil Rights Activists for Gay and Transgender Rights
Sylvia Rivera, born in New York City in 1951, was of Venezuelan and Puerto Rican descent. After a difficult start in life, Rivera experienced discrimination and violence, leading her to take action.
Rivera co-founded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) with Marsha P. Johnson to support LGBTQIA+ youth in Manhattan. Following the 1969 Stonewall riots, Rivera continued to fight for the civil rights of LGBTQIA+ communities with the newly founded Gay Liberation Front.
The Sylvia Rivera Law Project was established in 2002 following Rivera’s death. The Project provides legal representation to trans, non-binary, and non-gender-conforming communities.
5. Roberto Clemente, Professional Major League Baseball Player
Born in Puerto Rico in 1934, Roberto Clemente paved a new way for Hispanic Americans in Major League Baseball. Clemente made the professional baseball league at the age of 18 before playing for Canada and eventually moving to the US to join Pittsburgh Pirates in 1954.
Clemente became the first Latin American and Caribbean player to win the World Series as a starting player. Throughout his career, Clemente faced racial discrimination, leading him to advocate for the rights of Latine and Black players. Clemente also became the first Hispanic baseball player to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973.
Where to Find Out More
The National Hispanic Heritage Month website has an excellent range of resources to help you explore the theme for this year and find out how you can continue to raise awareness and support Hispanic communities all year round.
They also list current and ongoing exhibitions to help you further engage with and explore Hispanic cultures and histories.
I’m Cecilia Racine, and I teach therapists how to help immigrants through my online courses. As a bilingual immigrant myself, I know the unique perspective that these clients are experiencing. I’ve conducted over 500 evaluations and work with dozens of lawyers in various states. Immigrants are my passion, I believe they add to the fabric of our country.
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