In the spirit of Women’s History Month we’re keeping the celebration going by sharing a little history on some Latinas poderosas who inspire us! Check out how these women have left their mark on the world:
Her Role: Actress, Dancer, and Singer
Roots: Puerto Rican
Her Mark: In 1962, Rita Moreno became the first Latina to receive an Oscar, for her work in West Side Story. Moreno has also accomplished the rare feat of achieving an EGOT— as of 2020, she is one of 15 people to have won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony. Today, Moreno continues to bring laughter and joy into homes worldwide, with her portrayal of “Lydia” in One Day At a Time.
Inspiring Quote: “My middle name really is perseverance. I've always believed that I had talent, even when I felt like a very inferior sort of person, which I spent a lot of time living my life feeling that I wasn't worthy. But even then I knew that I had something special, and maybe that's what it takes. Maybe people need to have that kind of particular core driving them. But I felt I had talent.”
Her Role: Labor Leader & Civil Rights Activist
Her Mark: Coining the phrase, “si se puede” (“yes we can”), Dolores Huerta has dedicated her life to advocating for improved working conditions for migrant farm workers in the US. In 1965, Huerta co-founded the United Farm Workers labor union, to unite and lead farm workers to fight for their rights. Leading boycotts, protests and lobbies, Huerta was instrumental in the creation of legislation to protect United States farm workers, earning her the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights and Presidential Medal of Freedom. Today, Huerta continues to fight for migrant workers and women rights through her Dolores Huerta Foundation.
Inspiring Quote: “Every moment is an organizing opportunity, every person a potential activist, every minute a chance to change the world.”
Her Role: Indigenous Feminist and Human Rights Activist
Her Mark: Rigoberta Menchú has dedicated her life to helping the world recognize the suffering of indigenous people in Guatemala, both during and after the Guatemalan Civil War. Menchú’s social justice and ethno-cultural reconciliation efforts during her country’s civil war earned her the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992 and the Prince of Asturias Award in 1998. After receiving the wards Menchú established the Rigoberta Menchú Tum Foundation to support the Mayan communities and genocide survivors. She later founded WINAQ— the first indigenous-led political party. Today, Menchú continues to fight for justice for all Mayan people affected by genocide.
Inspiring Quote: “When you are convinced your cause is just, you fight for it.”
Her Role: Painter
Her Mark: Frida Kahlo is considered one of Mexico’s greatest artists. Kahlo is best known for her self-portraits that captured her pain from surviving a bus accident, as well as the stresses of her turbulent relationship with Diego Rivera. Kahlo was also known for her folk-art painting style, inspired by the nature and culture of Mexico, to explore topics ranging from gender to race to identity. Kahlo’s story continues to inspire thousands, reminding them that it’s important to be proud of and celebrate the person you are.
Inspiring Quote: “Pain, pleasure and death are no more than a process for existence. The revolutionary struggle in this process is a doorway open to intelligence.”
Her Role: Politician
Her Mark: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen had a career of firsts— the first Latina to serve in the Florida house, the first Latina to serve in the senate, the first Latina to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the first Latina to be elected into Congress. In 2011, Ros-Lehtinen became the first Republican member of Congress to co-sponsor the Respect for Marriage Act. In 2012, she also became the first Repubican member of Congress to support same-sex marriage. After almost four decades of serving her community, Ileana retired in 2018.
Inspiring Quote: “No matter where you are from, no matter what your background is, no matter what your socioeconomic status is, every person can achieve his or her dreams.”