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Born April 10th, 1930, Dolores Huerta is a symbol of the struggle for equal rights for all Latinos. Often overshadowed by her contemporary Cesar Chavez, with whom she founded the United Farm Workers Association in 1962, Huerta's work has been pivotal in obtaining rights for immigrant workers and farmers. She is currently president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, whose mission it is to, "build active communities working for fair and equal access to health care, housing, education, jobs, civic participation and economic resources." Her legacy continues in every Latina fighting against injustice.
Rita Moreno was born December 11, 1931 in Humacao, Puerto Rico. She is a singer, dancer and celebrated actress. She won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Anita in West Side Story (1961), a Grammy for her work on the The Electric Company Album (1972), a Tony for Best Featured Actress (1975) in the Broadway musical The Ritz, and Emmy awards for her work on The Muppet Show and The Rockford Files (1976 & 1978). She is the first female and only Latino to win an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony and inpires Latina performers of all kinds to this day.
Born July 6, 1907 in Coyoacán, Mexico City on her famed family estate Casa Azul, Kahlo was always considered an important figure in the art world, though her paintings did not gain widespread recognition until the 1970's. Many of her works are self-portraits that symbolically express the pain she felt consistently through her life due to a near fatal bus accident and her tumultuous relationship with fellow artist Diego Rivera. The vibrant colors, indigenous Mexican culture, symbolism and surrealism she favored served to define her both personally and artistically. Kahlo has influenced aesthetics and style for generations of Latina women.
Eva Perón was born May 7, 1919 and was the second wife of President Juan Domingo Perón, serving as First Lady of Argentina from 1946 until her death. Affectionately referred to as Evita by the people of her country, she accepted the Peronist party nomination for the Vice Presidency of Argentina in 1951. She received great support from the low-income and working class referred to as descamisados or "shirtless ones", but opposition from the nation's military and elite, coupled with her declining health forced Evita to withdraw her candidacy. Perón was named "Spiritual Leader of the Nation" by the Argentine Congress in 1952 and died shortly after at the age of 33.
Celia Cruz was one of the most successful Cuban performers of the 20th century and is arguably the best known and most influential female figure in the history of Cuban music. Born October 21st, 1925 in Havana, Celia career took off when she was paired with the Sonora Matancera in 1950. Throughout her 15 year partnership with the now legendary orchestra, she traveled all over Latin America and made a name for herself in the Cuban music scene. She came to New York city in the winter of 1961 and found herself as a central player in the golden era of salsa, joining up with Tito Puente's orchestra, the Fania music label and gaining international acclaim and success. Azucar!
Born January 9, 1941 in New York to Mexican and Scottish parents, Joan Baez was part of a family legacy of artists and rebels. In 1956, Baez heard a young Martin Luther King, Jr speak about nonviolence, civil rights and social change, and the speech brought tears to her eyes. Thus started her lifelong commitment to activism and social justice. Baez bought her first Gibson guitar for $50 and in 1959 her musical career was launched by her performance at the Newport Folk Festival. She recorded Joan Baez, her first album for a major label the following year for Vanguard Records. Joan Baez has now been fighting for equal rights, environmental justice and peace as well as making music that reflects her passion for life for 50 years.
Dolores Del Rio
Born August 3, 1905, Dolores del Rio became the first Mexicana movie star with international appeal. The meteoric rise of her career was a unique feat in the close-minded society of 1920's Hollywood. Dolores made her first film, Joanna, in 1925. The film was a success and she was soon was hailed as the female Rudolph Valentino, a star of silent films made during the Golden Age of Hollywood. Despite continued success in Hollywood (including a collaboration with Orson Welles, who was madly in love with her insisted they work together), Del Rio grew tired of the stereotypical roles she was being offered and began making films in her native Mexico, enjoying great financial and critical success for many years. Over her 50 year career, Del Rio made almost 60 films.
Ellen Ochoa was selected by NASA to become the first Latina astronaut in 1991. Since then she has logged more than 900 hours in space and is now the Deputy Director of the Johnson Space Center. Born in May 10, 1958 in Los Angeles, California, Ochoa earned her doctorate in electrical engineering from Stanford University and in the process invented optical analysis systems. She holds three patents to date and has won numerous awards for her success as an engineer, an astronaut, and a role model not just for Latinas but for all young, female scientists.
Born January 6, 1957 in Torrance, California, Chicana Nancy Lopez is a professional golfer. She became a member of the LPGA Tour in 1977 and won three major championships and 48 LPGA Tour events. Considered one of the greats in the history of women's golf, and the best female player for almost twenty years, Lopez is the only woman to win LPGA Rookie of the Year, Player of the Year, and the Vare Trophy in the same season (1978). Lopez was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1987, when she was only 30-years old.
Artist Judith Francisca Baca was born in Los Angeles, California and her work includes mostly large-scale public murals involving extensive community organizing and participation. She is best known for her epic half-mile long mural The Great Wall of Los Angeles, which took five years and hundreds of people to finish. In 1988, Baca founded the Great Walls Unlimited: Neighborhood Pride program, which has produced over 250 murals in its twenty years of operation. She is currently working on a series entitled La Memoria de Nuestra Tierra (The memory of our land), which addresses land illegally appropriated from Spanish and Indigenous peopleof the Southwestern United States.
Born in Havana, Cuba on July 15, 1952, Iliana Ros-Lehtinen was forced to flee Cuba at age 8, eventually settling in the Miami, Florida area with her family. Elected in 1989 to the United States House of Representatives, she became the first Hispanic woman and first Cuban-American elected to Congress. Ros-Lehtinen represents Florida’s 18th Congressional District (encompassing the Miami-Dade region) and has advocated for the environment and against offshore oil drilling in Florida. Ros-Lehtinen has earned national stature as the Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee due to her work on behalf of human rights in Tibet, Cuba, Iran and her recent visit to Darfur.
Michelle Bachelet was born in Santiago, Chile on September 29, 1951. She is a center-left politician and the current President of Chile. Bachelet was trained as a doctor and speaks English, German, French and Portuguese, in addition to her native Spanish. Her father was a victim of the brutal Pinochet dictatorship that forced then democratically elected President Allende out of power. First elected as the Minister of Defense in 2002, Michelle Bachelet won the presidential election in January of 2006 with 53.5% percent of the vote and became the first woman in Chilean history to hold the highest office in the land.