This is the time of year we celebrate Latino heritage from September 15 to October 15.

Within this month several Latin American countries celebrate their independence.

September 15 is the anniversary of independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.  Mexico celebrates independence on September 16 and Chile on September 18. Día de la Raza is celebrated on October 12.

In honor of our heritage we would like to pay homage to Latino firsts, the first Latino/a/x people to break barriers in their fields.

José Ferrer: First Latino to win Best Actor Oscar. He won an Academy Award for Best Actor for playing the title character in Cyrano de Bergerac in 1950. He was of Puerto Rican heritage.

Rita Moreno: First Latina to Win an Oscar and First Latina EGOT Winner (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) She won the Oscar for West Side Story in 1962, the Grammy for Electric Company in 1972, the Tony for the play The Ritz in  1975 and multiple Emmys between 1976 and 1978. She  is of Puerto Rican heritage.

Franklin Chang-Diaz: First Latino in space. He made seven spaceflights. His first mission was aboard the space shuttle Columbia in January 1986. He is of Costa Rican heritage.

Ellen Ochoa: First Latina in space. Ochoa is the first Latina woman to travel into space (1993). She later served as director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center (2013–18). She  is  of Mexican heritage.

Sonia Sotomayor: First Latina or Latino Supreme Court Justice. President Barack Obama nominated her as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on May 26, 2009, and she assumed this role on August 8, 2009. She  is  of Puerto Rican heritage.

Antonia Novello: First Latina and First Woman Surgeon General. Antonia Novello was appointed Surgeon General of the United States by President George Bush in 1990.  She had served nearly two decades of public service at the National Institutes of Health, where she took a role in drafting national legislation regarding organ transplantation. She is of Puerto Rican heritage.

Catherine Cortez Masto: First Latina Elected to the U.S. Senate. On November 8, 2016, Cortez Masto became the first woman elected to represent Nevada in the Senate and the first Latina elected to serve in the Senate. She is of Mexican heritage.

Susana Martinez: First Latina Governor. In 2010, Susana Martinez was elected governor of the State of New Mexico. She became New Mexico’s first female governor and the first Latina female governor in the history of the United States. She is of Mexican heritage.

Alexandria Ocasio Cortez: Youngest person elected to Congress. In November 2018 at 29 she then  became the youngest person in history to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. She is of Puerto Rican heritage.

Oscar Hijuelos: First Latino to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Hijuelos won in 1990  for his novel The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love. He was of Cuban heritage.

Ilia Calderon: First Afro-Latina Anchor at a  Major News Desk. In 2017, Univision named her anchor making her the first Afro-Latina to anchor a news desk from Monday through Friday on a major network in the United States. She is of Colombian heritage.

Roberto Clemente: First Latino baseball player inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Clemente played with the Pittsburgh Pirates and was elected posthumously to the Hall of Fame in 1973 in a special election that waived the mandatory five-year waiting period. He was of Puerto Rican heritage.