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Hispanic American Pioneers
September 26, 2023

Hispanic Americans continue to make strides on important issues like LGBTQ+ progress & representation, nonviolent activism for farm workers, climate change and cultural influence.

Sonia Sotomayor: Associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. She is the third woman, the first Hispanic, and first Latina to serve on the Supreme Court. Sotomayor has written opinions that addresses issues of race, ethnicity, and gender, and has spoken publicly about the importance of diversity on the bench. 

Sylvia Rivera: American activist for the gay and transgender communities, a veteran of the 1969 Stonewall Inn uprising and the Gay Liberation Front. She was a trailblazer for the LGBT community and helped put the “T” in the LGBT rights movement. 

Cesar Chavez: American labor leader and civil rights activist. Cesar made people aware of the struggles of farm workers for better pay and safer working conditions and succeeded through nonviolent tactics. He co-founded the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) with Dolores Huerta in 1962, which later became the United Farm Workers of America. 

Roberto Clemente: Professional baseball player who is considered one of the greatest athletes and humanitarians of the 20th century. Clemente became the first Latin American player to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. He used his platform as an athlete to advocate for racial and social equality. He died in a plane crash while on a mission to deliver aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. 

Mario Molina: American chemist who played a pivotal role in the discovery of the Antarctic ozone hole. Molina’s work contributed to the understanding of the effects of pollutants in the atmosphere and the importance of clean air in cities. Molina was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1995 for these efforts that have changed people’s quality life worldwide. 

Ellen Ochoa: an American astronaut and administrator. In April 1993, she served as mission specialist aboard the STS-56 mission of the space shuttle Discovery, becoming the first Latina to be launched into space and made it to the Space Hall of Fame. 

Celia Cruz: The Queen of Salsa! What else can we say! A true pioneer of AfroLatinidad, focusing on the African elements of her identity (music, lyrics, and dress) at a time when it was not popular to do so.