Hispanic and Latine Heritage Month: Acknowledging Significant Figures in Cultural Progress
Each year, September 15 – October 15 is marked as Hispanic and Latine Heritage Month. This is a time to appreciate and celebrate Hispanic and Latine communities’ cultures, histories, and diversity. Several activists are credited with these communities’ progress, and The Center is excited to acknowledge some of the current and historical figures that led movements to make change and progress.
Estela De Carlotto
Estela De Carlotto was a teacher, grandmother, and Argentinian human rights activist. In 1976 military and political unrest plagued her home, and her pregnant daughter was abducted by the military and others known as the “disappeared” and never heard from again. In 1978 Carlotto joined grandmothers in similar situations in an organization called Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo. Shortly after, Carlotto was informed that her daughter was killed. The Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo began investigating to find their grandchildren. The group became a leading human rights organization in Argentina. In 2014, Carlotto met her 36-year-old grandson for the first time. Learn more about Estela De Carlotto in the Human Rights Champion wall at The Center.
Ramon Contreras is a 19-year-old political and gun control activist and filmmaker championing civic engagement by encouraging minorities to exercise their civic rights. He also founded Youth Over Guns, an organization advocating gun control in underserved and minority communities. Ramon is also the National Strategies for March for Our Lives, a student-led organization advocating for gun control through demonstration.
Dolores Huerta is an American-born labor leader and civil rights activist who has dedicated her life to advocating for immigrants, women’s, and workers’ rights. She is best known for working with Cesar Chavez as the Agricultural Workers Organizing Community co-founder and organizing the Delano grape strike and the contract resolution. Her activism started in the 1950s when she began organizing farm workers to help hungry farm children. She then co-founded the Stockton chapter of the Community Service Organization, which led voter registration drives and fought for economic improvements for Hispanics. After that, she founded the Agricultural Worker’s Association and began working with activist Cesar Chavez to organize farm workers in 1962. Although she faced challenges for her ethnicity and gender, Huerta played a crucial role in organizing the 1965 Delano grape strike. She negotiated contracts for safer working conditions, unemployment, and healthcare benefits until the union contract was signed in 1970. Most recently, Dolores focused her activism on electing more Latinos and women into political office.
Carlos Russell is a Panamanian-born poet, professor, and activist. He dedicated most of his life to working with community leaders to organize protests and movements against racism and is known for championing NYC’s Black Solidarity Day. Russell has also served as Panama’s ambassador to the UN and has received the highest honor for Panamanian citizens in the Vasco Nunez de Balboa Award.