BY EMILY DJOHAN
Hispanic Heritage week was originally established in 1968 by congressman Lyndon B. Johnson. September 15 was chosen because it coincides with the Independence Day of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. President George H. W. Bush became the first president to declare that National Hispanic Heritage Month should last from September 15 to October 15. Giving us the current time period to “properly observe and coordinate events and activities to celebrate Hispanic culture and achievement” (Esteban E. Torres).
Dr. Ellen Ochoa was the first Hispanic woman to travel into space and became the 11th director of the Johnson Space Center. She was the first Hispanic person and the second woman to reach the position of director. In total, Ochoa has spent about 1,000 hours in space over the course of her four trips. She has been recognized with NASA’s highest award–the Distinguished Service Award–as well as the Presidential Distinguished Reward for recognition of her work in the federal government.
Image from: Britannica
Moreno is the first female Latina actress to win the award of Best Supporting Actress for her performance as r Anita in West Side Story. She would add to this list of rewards and would be one of 11 people to obtain the EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards). When the Peabody awards were added to create the acronym PEGOT, Moreno was the first Latino to achieve all five of these prestigious awards.
Image from: AP News
Chavez was a prominent union leader and labor organizer who preached the use of nonviolent methods in order to obtain better conditions. For thirty years, Chavez led a movement which sought to improve the lives of poor farmers. Chavez used organized marches and boycotts to achieve his goals. Chavez’s efforts ultimately paid off, and his movement succeeded in raising salaries and improving work conditions for farm workers in California, Texas, Arizona and Florida.
Image from: Cesar Chavez Foundation
Larrazolo was a Republican lawyer from New Mexico who became the first elected Hispanic senator. As a part of the Senate, Larrazolo advocated for equal opportunity and for Hispanic civil rights. Despite the fact thatLarrazolo faced backlash from every possible source, he continued to fight for what he believed was right. He was “the great champion of the Spanish-American people, always uncompromising in his concern for their welfare.… He was their acknowledged spokesman,”(New Mexican Senator Sam Bratton).