Honored Latinas

Latinas Who Have Been Honored by the National Women's HIstory Project During Our 25 Years of "Writing Women Back into History"

Judith BacaJudith F. Baca (1946-)
Artist
Determined to give all people a voice in public art and urban culture, Baca organized over 1,000 young people in Los Angeles to create more than 250 murals citywide. Starting in 1974, her massive works have brought together young people from different ethnic neighborhoods to explore their cultural histories and make connections to their lives today. Since 1987, Baca has been creating an enormous portable mural called the “World Wall” to promote global peace.

 


Linda Chavez-ThompsonLinda Chavez-Thompson (1944)
Labor Leader
Linda Chavez-Thompson, the daughter of sharecroppers, worked as an agricultural laborer before joining the labor union, eventually rising through the ranks of the AFL-CIO to become the first person of color, and the first woman, elected to be the Executive Vice-President of the AFL-CIO in 1995.
See her full bio here

 

 

Felisa Rincon de GautierFelisa Rincon de Gautier (1897-1994)
Political Activist
Gautier began her political activism campaigning for woman suffrage in Puerto Rica which was won in 1932. She joined the Popular Democratic Party and in 1940 was president of its San Juan committee. From 1948 to 1968, she was mayor of San Juan. In her open government, many schools, daycare, and health centers were built. She was on the National Committee of the United States Democratic Party and was a delegate to the national conventions until 1992.

 

 

Dolores HuertaDolores Huerta (1930-)
Labor Union Administrator
In the 1950s, Huerta began teaching in a farm workers' community and saw the brutal poverty surrounding her students. In 1962, she co-founded with Ceasar Chavez the United Farm Workers Union. She organized the members and through non-violence tactics, mounted a successful boycott of California table grapes. Her goal in life is to empower farm workers with information and skills to help them secure better living and working conditions.
See her full bio here

 

Jovita IdarJovita Idár (1885–1946)
Journalist
Idár reported discrimination against Mexican children and the lynchings of Mexicans by Texas Rangers for her father’s newspaper, La Cronica. In 1911, she co-founded La Liga Femenil Mexicanista (The League of Mexican Women) and was its first president. The women formed free schools for Mexican children and provided necessities for the poor. During the Mexican Revolution, Idár organized La Cruz Blanca (the White Cross) to nurse the wounded on both sides.

 


Tania LeonTania Léon(1943-)
Composer and Conductor
Leon, born in Cuba, immigrated to New York in 1967, and continued her work of performing, directing, conducting and composing music. She directed and conducted the Broadway musical The Wiz and Dance in America for public television. In 1993, Leon was a composer for the New York Philharmonic, using gospel, jazz, Latin and African elements in her music. In 1994, Leon started the Sounds of the Americas festival. Her opera Scourge of Hyacinths premiered in 1994 and won Best Composition prize at Munich.
See her full bio here

 

Maria Lopez de HernandezMaria Rebecca  Latigo de Hernandez 
(1896-1986)

Civil Rights Activist
Latigo de Hernandez worked for the improvement of civic, educational, and economic opportunity for the Mexican-American community. In 1929, she co-founded the Orden Caballeros of America, a civic and civil rights organization. She protested and wrote against the segregated and inferior education Mexican American children received. In 1970, she played a large role in the development of the Raza Unida Party to gain power through politics.

 


 Sonia Manzano
Sonia Manzano(1950-)
Actress
Manzano appeared in the original Broadway production of Godspell in New York. In 1972, she played the shopkeeper in the children’s TV show, Sesame Street. Manzano also wrote for the show. She has won seven Emmy Awards for her work. She was also nominated for an Emmy for Best Performer in a Children’s Program. Manzano has also appeared in other plays including The Living Room.

 

 

Vilma Martinez (1943-)
Civil Rights Attorney and Lawyer
Martinez graduated from Columbia University with a law degree in 1967. Knowing discrimination herself as a Latina, she has worked to ensure that the rights of traditionally underrepresented people are respected. Martinez was president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) from 1973–1982, building it into a powerful civil rights organization with regional offices. For a decade, she was a regent of the University of California.
See her full bio here

 

 

Alicia Dickerson MontemayorAlicia Dickerson Montemayor (1902–1989)
Latina Activist, Artist
Montemayor worked to end discrimination and improve the lives of Latino families. In 1937, she became the first woman in the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) to hold a national office not specifically designated for women. That same year, she became the first woman to serve on the board of the LULAC News and helped start Junior LULAC. At age 74, Montemayor began painting. Under the name ADMonty, her vibrant works have been widely exhibited.

 

 

Ellen OchoaEllen Ochoa(1958-)
Astronaut
Ochoa was the first female Hispanic astronaut who, in 1993, served on a nine-day mission aboard the shuttle Discovery. The astronauts were studying the earth's ozone layer. A pioneer of spacecraft technology, she patented an optical system to detect defects in a repeating pattern. At the NASA Ames Research Center, she led a research group working primarily on optical systems for automated space exploration.
See her full bio here

 

 

Graciela OlivarezGraciela Olivarez (1928-)
Lawyer
Olivarez is a former chair of the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF). Olivarez and Vilma Martinez were the first women on the board. Olivarez worked as a volunteer helping the poor and the physically disadvantaged. President Carter named her Director of Community Services Administrations in 1977. A professor of Law at the University of New Mexico she served as director for the Institute for Social Research and Development.

 

Nina Otero-WarrenNina Otero-Warren (1881-)
Educator, Politician, Suffragist
Between 1914 and 1920, Otero-Warren worked for woman suffrage in New Mexico. She became superintendent of public schools in Santa Fe County in 1918. As superintendent, Warren made improvements in rural schools. During WWI, she worked with the Red Cross. In 1921, she ran for the Congress and lost. Otero-Warren was then appointed Inspector of Indian Schools in Santa Fe County in 1923 and was able to improve education for Native Americans.

 

Emma TenayucaEmma Tenayuca(1916–1999)
Labor Organizer
As a student, Tenayuca realized her life of poverty as a Latina differed greatly from the living conditions of Americans described in her schoolbooks. As a labor organizer, she worked to improve the opportunities of poor people, especially Latinos. She worked to end unfair child labor practices. She is best known for her fiery speeches and union organizing work which began in a successful 1934 strike on behalf of pecan shellers in a Texas food processing plant.