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Each year, we want to recognize the achievements and contributions of Hispanic Americans who have inspired others to achieve success. It’s always celebrated from September 15 to October 15.
The Official Flag of the Hispanic People (open Source)
In the USA and many other countries, Hispanic culture is everywhere you look. From architecture and the arts to sports and popular culture, Hispanic heritage has been adopted and embraced everywhere it goes. But, culture is nothing without people! We pulled together a list of a few amazing Hispanic people to give you some inspiration. Whether you teach English, Art, or STEM, there’s so many ways to bring Hispanic Heritage Month into your curriculum.
Hispanic VIPs in…
It would be impossible to talk about great Hispanic artists without mentioning the Spanish-born Pablo Picasso.
Before Picasso turned apples into Rubix cubes, however, another famous Hispanic person was pushing the boundaries of art.
Despite being struck by a bus at eighteen and mainly left unable to move, Frida Kahlo became one of the twentieth century’s most famous and prolific artists.
Her passion for her art has made her an inspiration for ill and differently-abled artists around the world for over a hundred years.
Sonia Sotomayor is an inspiration for thousands as a Latina who overcame many obstacles and rose to hold one of the top positions of power in the United States.
Hailed as ‘a role model of aspiration, discipline, commitment, intellectual prowess, and integrity’ for her ascent to the federal bench from an upbringing in a South-Bronx housing project.” Her life is an inspiring tale for Americans from all walks of life.
Helen Rodriguez-Trias was a physician who worked for women’s and children’s healthcare. Originally from Puerto Rico, she was the first Latina director of the American Public Health Association and received the Presidential Citizens Medal for her work.
Antonia Novello is the first woman AND the first Latin-American to serve as Surgeon General of the United States. Throughout her career, she worked to improve AIDS education, educate Americans about the dangers of smoking, and help vulnerable women and children across the United States.
It was a Mexican who invented color TV. When he was just SEVENTEEN years old, Guillermo Camarena invented the “Chromoscopic adapter,” which suddenly made TV rainbows a lot more interesting!
Ellen Ochoa is an engineer and was the world’s first Latina astronaut, following a long and impressive career at NASA. Originally a music major, she has played the flute in low-Earth orbit, 2,000 km above the Earth’s surface!
She flew four missions in space, is in the Astronaut Hall of Fame, and now works as the Director of Flight Operations at the Space Center in Texas.
Miguel De Cervantes is the author of the world’s first novel; The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha. In this comedic tale, the aging knight Don Quixote embarks on an ill-fated adventure to restore glory and chivalry to the world. He doesn’t quite succeed, but he does battle a windmill!
Gary Soto is a prolific Latino writer whose work includes poetry, novels, children’s books, and more. He won the Academy of American Poets Prize, the American Book Award, and the Hispanic Heritage Award for Literature. He famously said, “This is what poetry means—language that surprises and keeps us on our toes.”
Jorge Ramos is a bilingual Mexican journalist. He is the most well-known and influential news anchor in the United States among Spanish- language news programs. He was famously quoted saying, “When journalists forget that our job is to question and annoy those in power, there can be huge consequences.”
Oscar de la Renta was an internationally recognized fashion designer. Several U.S. first ladies wore his gowns at inaugural events and other places, from Jacqueline Kennedy to Laura Bush.
Christina María Aguilera is an American singer, songwriter, actress, and television personality. Known for her powerful voice, four-octave vocal range, and ability to sustain high notes, she has won five Grammy awards throughout her career.
Carlos Augusto Santana Alves is a Mexican-born American guitarist. He rose to fame in the late 1960s and early 1970s with his band Santana, which pioneered a fusion of Rock and roll and Latin American jazz. He has been cited as an influence for modern musicians, from Stevie Ray Vaughn to the late, great Prince.
Sabrina Gonzalez Pasterski is a Cuban-American physicist whose research led to the discovery of the “spin memory effect” for evaluating the effects of gravitational waves, and she’s not even thirty years old yet!
France Córdova is an astrophysicist who became the youngest person and the first woman ever named chief scientist at NASA. France Córdova is known for her work and research with X-rays, gamma rays, and space instruments. As she described it,
Oscar de la Hoya is a Mexican-American boxer who competed in the U.S. for 16 years. He won ten world titles, including an Olympic gold medal when he was just nineteen! This impressive feat earned him the nickname “The Golden Boy.”
Some of the greatest players to ever play soccer are Hispanic. Diego Maradonna, Lionel Messi, and Maribel Domingez all hold impressive soccer records. Maribel Domingez is known as MariGOL(goal)l in her home nation of Mexico for scoring 46 goals in 49 games!
Laurie Hernandez is an American gymnast, one of only a few Latina Olympian gymnasts to represent the USA. In the 2016 Olympics, she won an individual silver medal for the balance beam and was a member of the women’s “Final Five” team that won gold for the United States.
Stage and Screen
Lin-Manuel Miranda is insanely talented, having succeeded as an actor, composer, producer, rapper, singer, songwriter, and teacher! He famously wrote the genre-bending Broadway sensation Hamilton, which won him a Pulitzer prize!
Guillermo del Toro is a Mexican-born filmmaker and author. Known for his distinct visual storytelling style, he has directed award-winning films in both Spanish and English. He directed the Academy Award-winning fantasy films Pan’s Labyrinth and The Shape of Water, winning the Oscars for Best Director and Best Picture for the latter.
Óscar Isaac Hernández Estrada is an Guatemalan-born American actor. Known for his versatility, he has been credited with breaking stereotypes about Latino characters in Hollywood. He recently gained critical acclaim for portraying multiple characters in Marvel’s Moon Knight.
These examples are only the tiniest tip of the iceberg of amazing Hispanic people throughout America and around the world. Any one of them would be a great subject for a lesson or research assignment. Check out our other blog on activities you can do in the classroom or see our templates in the Kami Library.
So from Kami, ¡Hasta Luego! (Until next time!)