Hispanic Heritage Month: Latinx Figures Who Made Huge Contributions to History
Updated: Sep 11
Since it's Hispanic Heritage Month, take a minute to learn about these prominent Latinx/Hispanic (a gender neutral alternative of Latina/Latino) individuals who made significant historical contributions.
Ellen Ochoa (b. 1958)
On April 8, 1993, Ochoa became the first Hispanic woman in the world to go into space. Ochoa was on the shuttle "Discovery" for a total of nine days while conducting important research about the Earth’s ozone layer.
Dolores Huerta (b. 1930)
Co-founder of the United Farm Workers Association, Huerta is one of the leading labor activists of the 20th century and a leader of the Chicano civil rights movement. Huerta has received numerous awards for her community service and advocacy for workers', immigrants', and women's rights.
Cesar Chavez (1927-1993)
The Mexican-American civil rights activist is best known for his efforts to help thousands of people who worked on farms for low wages and under severe conditions. Chavez and his United Farm Workers union battled California grape growers by holding nonviolent protests throughout the second half of the 20th century.
Sonia Sotomayor (b. 1954 )
After putting herself through Princeton and Yale Law School, Sotomayor first became U.S. District Court Judge, and then the first Latina judge in the Supreme Court in the U.S history. Sotomayor has worked tirelessly to be a voice for women and ethnic minorities in criminal justice reform while in office.
Roberto Clemente (1934-1972)
Roberto Clemente was one of the first Latin American baseball stars in the United States, who was also famous for hosting baseball clinics for underprivileged youth. In addition, he provided significant financial aid to people in his native Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and other countries in Latin America.
Frida Kahlo (b. 1907-1954)
Kahlo was a Mexican painter best known for her brilliantly colored self-portraits that deal with themes like identity, the human body, and death. Also, Kahlo and her husband, Diego Rivera, were open supporters of Marxism and were members of the Mexican Communist Party.
Franklin Chang Díaz (b. 1950)
NASA's first Hispanic astronaut, he also supports space technology in Latin America and is in lead of a research on Chagas disease. His Ad Astra Rocket Company offers innovations for farming communities across the world, including renewable energy systems.
Joan Baez (b. 1941)
Baez was an American singer, songwriter, musician, and activist of a Mexican-Scottish descent. In addition to supporting civil rights, Baez also participated in the movement against the war in Vietnam. Many of her songs promote social justice and civil rights, and she often sang at marches and rallies in the 1960s.
Arturo Alfonso Schomburg (1874-1938)
Schomburg was an Afro-Puerto Rican historian who spent his life collecting items that showed the achievements of the African diaspora and the depth of black history. His findings became the starting point for today's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Schomburg was an important intellectual figure in the Harlem Renaissance in the US and a supporter of independence for his native land, Puerto Rico.
Jovita Idar (1885-1946)
Idar was a Mexican-American teacher, journalist and civil rights activist fighting against extralegal violence and racism, and for better educational opportunities for children, as well as gender equality and workers' rights. She also established a Democratic club and was involved in state politics.