Hispanic Heritage Month is here; Sylvia Mendez, Sonia Sotomayor, Jorge Ramos, and Jennifer Lopez are all prominent Hispanic-American figures that have contributed to our history and busted open the doors of opportunity and change.
Mendez was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in 2011.
Many have heard of the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case, separate but equal is not equal, while few have yet to hear about the Mendez v. Westminster case.
Nine-year-old Mendez was rejected from a public school in California using the “whites only” argument, 8 years before Brown v. Board of Education.
Gonzalo Mendez, her father, pursued and won a class action lawsuit against four school districts in the Los Angeles area.
They even used arguments from the Mendez case in Brown v. Board of Education.
Sylvia became the Assistant Nursing Director of Pediatric Pavilion at the Los Angeles University of Southern California. She is now retired and spends time educating students about the Mendez case.
Sotomayor became the first Latina Supreme Court Justice in United States history in 2009.
While this is an accomplishment on its own, this is not all Sotomayor has achieved.
She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Princeton University, graduating “summa cum laude”, or in other words, with highest honors in 1976.
Sotomayor later went on to attain her Juris Doctor degree, a requirement to practice law in the United States, from Yale Law School, while she also took on the role of editor for the Yale Law Journal in 1979.
“I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life,” said Sotomayor.
Ramos is a news anchor for Univision and has held that position for almost 30 years.
The newscast “Noticiero Univision” is ranked Spanish television’s No. 1 spot.
Some may have heard about the incident when Ramos was ordered out of a news conference by Donald Trump. Ramos did not back down, nor did he sit down, until he was escorted out by security.
According to a 2010 study by the Pew Hispanic Center, among Latinos, Ramos was the second most recognized Latino leader behind Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor.
In 2013, Ramos said, “We are simply being the voice of those who don’t have a voice”.
J.Lo is well known in the Hollywood scene for both her singing, dancing, and acting with a fan base that spans from both the English and Spanish speaking audiences.
New York born, Lopez had her big break in Hollywood when she played Selena on the big screen.
Receiving a Golden Globe nomination, Lopez became the highest paid actress with a $1 million paycheck. Soon after, her album J.Lo debuted at the top of the pop charts as No. 1.
Singing and acting is not all she does; she is also a business woman who also owns her own apparel, perfume, and bedding line.
These are just a few prominent Hispanic figures who have left their mark on this side of the border.