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9 Latinas Who Shaped US History: From Astronauts to Supreme Court Justices

Collage by Karla Montalván, photo cred: Wikimedia Commons

This Women’s History Month, we celebrate the incredible contributions of Latinas who have broken barriers and inspired generations. Whether they’re reaching for the stars or fighting for social justice, these women have made a lasting impact on the fabric of the United States.

From artists like Selena Quintanilla-Pérez to activists like Dolores Huerta and Sylvia Rivera, history changed forever thanks to the contributions of these incredible women.

Ellen Ochoa

This pioneering scientist shattered glass ceilings in 1993, becoming the first Latina astronaut. Ochoa’s accomplishments in space exploration continue to inspire young Latinas to pursue careers in STEM fields and reach beyond the stars.

Dolores Huerta

A tireless labor leader and civil rights activist, Huerta co-founded the United Farm Workers alongside Cesar Chavez. Her fight for fair treatment and better working conditions for farmworkers, many of them Latino immigrants, is a testament to her unwavering commitment to social justice.

Selena Quintanilla-Pérez

The “Queen of Tejano Music,” Quintanilla’s vibrant music transcended cultural boundaries and continues to shine today. By redefining Tex-Mex music and becoming a powerful role model for young Latinas, she paved the way for greater Latina representation in the entertainment industry.

Sylvia Rivera

A fearless transgender activist, Rivera co-founded the Gay Liberation Front and fought for LGBTQ+ rights during the Stonewall Riots. Her activism continues to inspire the fight for LGBTQ+ equality today.

Sonia Sotomayor

The first Latina Supreme Court Justice, Sotomayor‘s rise to the highest court in the land is a powerful symbol of achievement for the Latino community. Her legal brilliance and commitment to justice continue to shape American jurisprudence.

Julia Alvarez

A renowned Dominican-American author, Alvarez’s work sheds light on the experiences of immigrants and the complexities of cultural identity. Her novels inspire empathy and understanding across cultures.

Ana Mendieta

The Cuban refugee was one of the brightest contemporary artists of her time. Her artwork draws on spiritualism, magic, earth, and feminism. Through her infamous “earth-body” artwork she displayed the sense of displacement immigrants feel after fleeing their countries of origin. Mendieta is considered one of the most influential Cuban-American artists of the post-World War II era.

Jennifer Lopez

A multi-talented entertainer, Lopez has excelled as a singer, actress, dancer, and producer. Her success across various industries shaped the presence of Latinos in entertainment today. Rising to stardom after “Selena” the movie, Lopez has left her mark in Hollywood with her tenacity.

Joan Baez

The legendary folk singer was an anti-war and civil rights activist. She is known for singing “We Shall Overcome,” which quickly became the anthem of the Civil Rights movement. Baez was a human rights activist who fought for justice among marginalized communities in the US.