El Centro News »

Hispanic Heritage Month 2013

Posted: September 16, 2013, 11:52 am

We Are Now Celebrating:

Dolores Huerta, Labor leader

Born: April. 10, 1973

Huerta grew up in California's agricultural San Joaquin Valley, where her mother owned a restaurant and a hotel that often let farm workers stay free. Huerta received a teaching degree from the University of the Pacific's Delta Community College. After teaching elementary school for a short time, Huerta left to work with farm workers. In 1955 Huerta was a founding member of the Stockton, Calif., chapter of the Community Service Organization (CSO), which opposed segregation and lobbied for better conditions for farm workers.
After founding the Agricultural Workers Association in 1960, Huerta became a lobbyist in Sacramento. The following year, she fought for legislation making non-U.S. citizens eligible for pensions and public assistance. She also backed successful legislation that allowed people to vote and take driver's examinations in Spanish.

In 1962 Huerta and activist Cesar Chavez founded the organization that later became the United Farm Workers of America (UFW). In 1973 the UFW began a nationwide consumer boycott of California grapes, lettuce, and Gallo wines. The boycott resulted in the California table-grape growers signing a three-year collective bargaining agreement with the UFW. Another boycott resulted in passage of the U.S. Agricultural Labor Relations Act, giving farm workers the right to organize and bargain for better wages and working conditions. Huerta, who has 11 children, 14 grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren, has continued her political and social activism in support of rights for immigrants and women.

Previous Celebrations:

Carlos Santana, musician

Born: 7/20/1947
Birthplace: Autlan De Navarro, Mexico

The guitar-playing legend's blend of blues, rock, and Afro-Cuban rhythms has kept him visible on the popular music front for more than 30 years. After moving with his family to San Francisco he became a founding member of the Santana Blues Band, later Santana. A month after appearing at Woodstock in 1969—one of the band's first gigs—Santana released its first album, Santana, which it followed with a series of gold and platinum albums during the 1970s: Abraxas, Borboletta, and Inner Secrets. Santana himself recorded many solo albums including the jazz influenced The Swing of Delight (1980), featuring Herbie Hancock and others, and the pop-oriented Havana Moon (1983) with Willie Nelson and Booker T Jones. In 1986, he wrote the score for La Bamba, the biopic of Ritchie Valens. In 1999, after a break of five years from recording, Santana released Supernatural, which sold almost ten million copies and won eight Grammy Awards.


Mario Molina, chemist, Nobel laureate

Born: March 19, 1943
Birthplace: Mexico City

At the University of California at Berkeley in 1973, Molina and Sherwood Rowland began researching chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), then widely used in refrigerators, spray cans, and cleaning solvents. They discovered that the release of CFCs could destroy the ozone layer in the stratosphere, allowing more ultraviolet light to get through to Earth and potentially increasing the rate of skin cancer. Their efforts led to CFC production being banned in most countries, and they received the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Jennifer Lopez, actress

Born: 7/24/1969
Birthplace: Bronx, New York

Film and television actress best known for her portrayal of Selena, the murdered Tejano singer, in the movie Selena (1997), for which she earned a Golden Globe Best Actress nomination. Lopez started off dancing in stage musicals, and first appeared on the Hollywood scene as one of the “fly girl” dancers on In Living Color (1990). After several failed television series, she appeared in the critically acclaimed film Mi Familia (1995), and has since appeared in various other movies on the big screen. Television credits include South Central, Second Chances (1993) and Malibu Road; film credits include Jack (1996), Money Train (1997), Anaconda (1997), The Cell (2000), The Wedding Planner (2001) and Angel Eyes (2001). 2003 was not a good year, first, with the end of her marriage with Cris Judd, then the universal panning of the movie Gigli with then-fiancee Ben Affleck. She married singer Marc Anthony in June 2004.  And as we all know is single again.


Oscar De La Hoya, Boxer

Born: Feb. 4, 1973

1992 Olympic gold medallist (lightweight); has held world titles in 4 weight classes (lightweight, super lightweight, welterweight and jr. middleweight); was unbeaten until losing WBC Welterweight belt to Felix Trinidad in a majority decision in 1999; later moved to jr. middleweight and won WBA and WBC belts; TKO’d in 9th round by Bernard Hopkins in their undisputed middleweight title fight in September 2004.

Sandra Cisneros, Author

Born: 1954
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois

Sandra Cisneros's acclaimed first book, The House on Mango Street (1984), draws on memories of a childhood in which she moved often between Mexico and the U.S. while struggling to find her voice as the only daughter among seven children. A work of sharp observation and vivid prose, this novel, which won the Before Columbus American Book Award, has been widely taught. Cisneros is also known for her poetry, especially My Wicked Wicked Ways (1987).  Currently Cisneros lives in San Antonio, Texas.


Ruben Blades, actor, musician, composer

Born: 7/16/1948
Birthplace: Panama City, Panama

A popular salsa musician, he turned to acting in the 1980s, making his feature film debut in Crossover Dreams (1985), for which he also wrote the screenplay and songs. He has also acted in The Milagro Beanfield War (1988), Mo' Better Blues (1990), The Two Jakes (1990), Cradle Will Rock (1999) and All the Pretty Horses (2000). He has written songs for the movies Oliver & Company (1988) and Do the Right Thing (1989). In 1994 he ran unsuccessfully for president of Panama.

Ellen Ochoa, Astronaut

Born: 5/10/1958
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California

Astronaut Ellen Ochoa first left Earth in July 1991 and became the world's first Hispanic female astronaut. A mission specialist and flight engineer, she has since logged more than 900 hours in space on four flights, the last in 2002. Dr. Ochoa's many awards include NASA's Exceptional Service Medal (1997) and Outstanding Leadership Medal (1995). Besides being an astronaut, researcher, and engineer, Ochoa is a classical flutist.