Tuesday, October 13, 2015



Rita Moreno
Age: 81
Roots: Puerto Rican
How She Changed the World: The legendary singer, dancer and actress has had an amazing career. She won acclaim for her role as Anita in the film adaptation of West Side Story, had a successful Broadway career and even performed at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1993. She was only the second Puerto Rican to win an Academy Award and is still the only Latino who has earned the prestigious EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony). 

Name: Selena Quintanilla
Age: 23
Roots: Mexican
How She Changed the World: Despite having her life tragically cut short, Selena accomplished more than most artists in her lifetime. She helped put Latin and Tejano music on the mainstream map. She was known as ‘The Queen of Tejano” and her voice transcended borders in hits like, “Como la Flor” and “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom.” Very few stars have been able to live up to the Grammy winner’s grace, talent, and ambition.

Name: Cristina Saralegui
Age: 65
Roots: Cuban
How She Changed the World: Known as the Latina Oprah, Cristina inspired and motivated for decades with her self-titled hit Univision show. Known for ending each episode with the Spanish phrase, ‘Pa'lante, pa'lante, pa'tras ni pa' coger impulso’(Move forward and never look back) the Cuban journalist instantly won over the hearts of millions.

Name: Gloria Estefan
Age: 55
Roots: Cuban
How She Changed the World: As if selling over 90 million albums isn’t enough, Gloria has served as a role model for women across the globe. The legendary singer is known for her energetic performances and one of the first Latin stars to crossover into the mainstream pop market. In 2010, Gloria also launched a charity single, “Somos el Mundo” to help support Haiti after the devastating earthquake. The Queen of Latin Pop is an icon with true love for her community.

Name: Celia Cruz
Age: 77
Roots: Cuban
How She Changed the World: “¡Azúcar!” While most singers came and went, Cruz’s career lasted a span of nearly six decades. Her profoundly soulful voice and colorful presence revolutionized salsa and transformed her into a musical legend. Most importantly, the Cuban singer taught us that ‘life is a carnival’ (in one of her many hits “La Vida Es Un Carnaval”). The late singer was also a strong voice for freedom in Cuba and was strongly against Fidel Castro’s regime.

Name: Claribel Alegria
Age: 88
Roots: Nicaraguan
How She Changed the World: With over 25 published works, this novelist is a powerful voice in contemporary literature in Central America. The George Washington University grad focused on the people’s movement, which helped overthrow dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle. 

Name: Julia de Burgos
Age: 39
Roots: Puerto Rican
How She Changed the World: The renowned Puerto Rican writer and poet was a feminist at heart. Her poems, “Yo Misma Fui Mi Ruta (“I Was My Own Path”) and “A Julia de Burgos” symbolized messages of individual and nationalistic freedom. As the oldest of thirteen children, Burgos pursued her education at The University of Puerto Rico and would go on to become one of the most influential Caribbean civil rights activists.

Name: Sylvia Rivera
Age: 50
Roots: Puerto Rican – Venezuelan
How She Changed the World: Orphaned at the age of 3, Rivera learned how to take life’s punches at an early age. The transgender activist fought for the LGBTQ community and organized plenty of protests fighting for gay rights in the 1970’s in New York City. Her legacy is still strongly felt within the community and she has been honored in the musical,
Sylvia So Far.

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