Tuesday, October 13, 2015
Roots: Puerto Rican
How She Changed the World: Being the third female justice and the first Latino to sit on the bench of the Supreme Court of the United States is no small accomplishment for the New York City native. Other than her inspirational work as a Latina in the legal work, Sotomayor published her memoir, My Beloved World, earlier this year, which recounts her early life of growing up in housing projects in New York and the challenges she overcame.
How She Changed the World: Along with Cesar Chavez, Huerta co-founded the National Farmworkers Association, which eventually became the United Farm Workers (UFW), in order to unite farmers into a union that fights to protect their rights. She is a labor leader and civil rights activist who has also advocated for immigrants’ and women’s rights, earning her the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights and Presidential Medal of Freedom.
How She Changed the World: The elegant business woman made a name for herself as a fashion designer who has dressed everyone from countless celebrities to many First Ladies, including Jackie O (Jacqueline Onassis) and current First Lady Michelle Obama. Known for the clothes’ impeccable, worldly style without being fussy, Herrera earned the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 2008—but even that hasn’t stopped her and she is still designing beautiful clothes, accessories and even fragrances.
Vilma Martinez (civil rights attorney)
How She Changed the World: The Mexican-American civil rights attorney was the first woman appointed to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to Argentina. She was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009 but has been a diplomat since President Jimmy Carnet appointed Martinez to her first position in the U.S. Diplomatic Corps in 1977.
Linda Chavez-Thompson (labor leader)
How She Changed the World: The Mexican-American woman is a union leader who was formerly the vice-president of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations from 1995 until 2007, working on behalf of the fifty-six national and international unions to represent more than 11 million workers. Since her retirement, she ran to be the Lieutenant Governor of Texas and was the vice chair to the Democratic National Committee.
How She Changed the World: The Cuban-American broadcast journalist made waves as the anchor of CNN’s morning news program Starting Point and American Morning. Today she is recognized as one of the top journalists who fights for social change, has won an Emmy award for co-hosting The Know Zone and a Goodermote Humanitarian Award for her reporting of Hurricane Katrina and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. She continues to strive for excellence in reporting as she starts Starfish Media Group, which will allow her to continue to confront difficult topics and tell underreported topics.
How She Changed the World: Although she had been acting in her native Mexican, it was Hayek’s move to Hollywood in 1991 that earned her worldwide recognition as a Mexican-American actress, director and producer. She is best known for her role as Frida Kahlo in 2002 film Frida, for which she received numerous nominations and awards. She is also an advocate for increasing awareness on violence against women and discrimination against immigrants. She has testified before the U.S. Senate Committee supporting the reauthoring of the Violence Against Women Act and is a board member of V-Day, a charity aimed at ending violence against women and girls.
Name: Victoria Soto
Age: Died in 2012 at the age of 27
Roots: Puerto Rican
How She Changed the World: This courageous teacher was hailed as a heroine after she died protecting her young students during the Newton, CT shootings on December 14, 2012. She demonstrated tremendous strength when she hid her students in a closet and told the shooter that they were in the gym. She was killed protecting them, after the shooter didn’t believe her and she shielded her room from the bullets with her own body. President Barack Obamaawarded Soto the Presidential Citizens Medal, describing her as a selfless and courageous woman who “inspire[s] us all to look for opportunities to better serve our communities and our country.”