National Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrated from September 15 to October 15, is not only a time to celebrate the culture and customs of South America, the Caribbean, Mexico and Spain; it also presents the opportunity to learn about people who’ve made a substantial impact in the world. Below is a list of five influential Hispanic women who brought about change that not only affected the lives of people within their countries, but across the globe.
“I would warn any minority student today against the temptations of self-segregation: Take support and comfort from your own group as you can, but don’t hide within it.” – Sonia Sotomayor
Sonia Sotomayor was born in the Bronx borough of New York City to parents of Puerto Rican descent, living on a modest income. Her initial interest in the legal system came from watching Perry Mason, an American legal drama series. Her mother stressed the importance of a higher education and of learning English; Sotomayor attended Princeton University, where she continued to strengthen her knowledge of English and improved her writing skills. She aligned herself with Puerto Rican groups on campus and worked the school’s University Discipline Committee, graduating summa cum laude. She was accepted into Yale Law School, passing the bar in 1980 and becoming an assistant district attorney in Manhattan, where she worked on a cases dealing with murder, robbery, and police brutality.
Sotomayor was later appointed as U.S. District Court Judge for the Southern District of New York City. On June 25th, 1997, her 43rd birthday, President Bill Clinton nominated her for the U.S. Second Circuit, which was confirmed in October of the same year. And 12 years later, on May 26th 2009, President Barack Obama nominated her for a place on the Supreme Court. The Senate confirmed his nomination, making Sonia Sotomayor the first Latin-American Supreme Court justice.
As Sotomayor currently sits on the Supreme Court, her legacy is still unfolding – many refer to her as the justice who saved Obamacare; her influence will continue to be indisputably felt in the lives of many Americans.
“I know that, like every woman of the people, I have more strength than I appear to have.”- Eva Peron.
Born in a rural village in Los Toldos, Argentina, Eva Peron grew up poor. The youngest of five siblings, her father had another family of his own. So when he decided to return to them, Eva and her mother were left with next to nothing.
At 15, she moved to the Argentinian capital Buenos Aries to pursue a career as a film actress, gaining her first film role in 1937 when she was 18. At 24, she had already acquired huge success with the opening of her own entertainment business, having frequently starred in roles that portrayed famous women in history. When she married Juan Peron at 26, who became the president of Argentina in 1946, she was whisked into the political limelight.
Peron, as first lady, used her position to advocate for the poor and for women. She created the Eva Peron Foundation, which aimed to provide financial assistance to gifted children of improvised backgrounds, to build homes, schools, hospitals, and orphanages in underprivileged neighborhoods. It is said that she spent 20 to 22 hours a day at the foundation.
When it came to granting women the right to vote in Argentina, though she advocated it, her powers were limited in pushing a bill forward. However, Peron did create the first large female political party in Argentina, the Female Peronist party. This organization was credited with the appearance of womens’ centers in poor neighborhoods, the increase of women allowed into universities, and the election of 24 women into the 1951 elections.
Eva Peron’s legacy is one that continues to be remembered through her image on Argentinian currency, the museum Musea, and the famous movie adaptation of the musical Evita, staring Madonna.
“Doubt yourself and you doubt everything you see. Judge yourself and you see judges everywhere. But if you listen to the sound of your own voice, you can rise above doubt and judgment. And you can see forever.”– Nancy Lopez
Nancy Lopez never won a U.S. Open, but still left her mark as one of the greatest women in the history of golf. Lopez is an Mexican-American whose career took off at an early age. The daughter of a father who owned an auto-body shop, she won the women’s Armature at the age of 12, and after graduating high school, played in the U.S. Women’s Open as an amateur, tying for second. While in college, she became the only player to win the Rookie of the Year Award, Player of the Year and the Vare Trophy in the same season. In 1987, she was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. Currently, her company, Nancy Lopez Golf, makes a full line of women’s club and accessories.
“Nothing is worth more than laughter. It is strength to laugh and to abandon oneself, to be light.”- Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo grew up in Mexico City, Mexico. At age six she contacted polio which left her bedridden for 9 months and left damage to her right leg and foot. When she was 18, she was involved in a serious car accident which sent a handrail into one side of her hip which exited through the other, causing spine and pelvis fractures. Again, bedridden, she began to paint while she recovered. This, it is said, was where her interest in painting began. With a mirror hung above her bed, she painted- self portraits, which she became famously known for. When she enrolled in college, she surrounded herself with politically-minded students. Later, at 22, she married communist and artist Diego Rivera, a tumultuous relationship which Kahlo depicted in her paintings.
Though Kahlo obtained minimal success in Mexico, she was largely still known only as Diego Rivera’s wife. It wasn’t until her death in 1954 and the rise of Mexican art at the end of the 1970s and early 1980s that she obtained the acclaimed worldly recognition that she deserved. Her paintings were exhibited in London, Sweeden, New York City, Germany and Mexico City. Several biographies were written about her, and on June 21, 2001 she became the first Hispanic woman to be honored on a U.S. postal stamp. Additionally, a year later, Frida, a movie starring Selma Hayek, was released and received great success.
“…When you have a conflict, then it’s an educational process to try to resolve the conflict. And to resolve that, you have to get people on both sides of the conflict involved so that they can dialogue.” Dolores Huerta
Dolores Huerta was born in Dawson, New Mexico and grew up in the open air environment of a farm in the San Joaquin Valley of Stockton, California. She completed a teaching degree at a community college and later taught elementary students, which exposed her to farm students living in extreme poverty. This furthered her cause in creating the Agricultural Workers Association in 1960, which called for action to allow non-U.S. citizen migrant workers to receive public assistant and pensions, and to create Spanish language driving test and voting ballots. Additionally, in 1962, she also co-founded the United Farms Workers, a labor union for farm workers in the U.S.
so cool as a part of the hispanic race. i love to get to know more of my culture.
Ehh good for them.. ._.
it amazing ehh good or you
ella es buena
I like this article because of how the women fought for their rights and made a difference. It is very inspiring.
I like this women cause the fought for what they believed in when no one else did.
I’m inspired by these women they’re awesome!!!!!!