Latinos are Nation Shapers and Culture Makers
Latinos and Latinas have shaped the United States and continue to do so at a national and local level by fighting for justice, supporting fair labor practices, education access, immigration reform, criminal justice reform, and LGBT rights, among other issues. Latino and Latina groundbreaking thinkers, artists, athletes, entrepreneurs, scientists, and public servants invigorate U.S. culture and democracy.
Latino and Latina business owners, activists, artists, and many others have worked together to make a difference in their communities. Latinos and Latinas continue to work together and with others to create a more equitable society for all. Click on the button below to learn more about the Shaping the Nation exhibit case in ¡Presente!
Tree of Life in 3D
Verónica Castillo (b. 1967) is an award-winning ceramicist. Castillo created this Tree of Life (El Árbol de la Vida in Spanish) for the National Museum of the American Latino’s debut exhibition, ¡Presente! A Latino History of the United States. This Tree of Life, titled Raíces, historia y justicia latinas (Latino Roots, History, and Justice) visualizes themes from ¡Presente!
Ellen Ochoa First Latina In Space
In 1993 Dr. Ellen Ochoa became the first Latina to go to space when she flew aboard the space shuttle Discovery. As a physicist and astronaut, she has inspired many to follow in her footsteps.
Stories from the Past
There have been countless Latina and Latino changemakers over the course of U.S. history. Explore the stories of two Latino boundary breakers who influenced healthcare and the U.S. military.
Latinas and Latinos have long fought for civil rights. Puerto Rican physician Helen Rodríguez-Trías (1929–2001) was one of them. A reproductive rights and public health advocate, she worked to increase access to quality healthcare for women and children. She also fought to abolish forced sterilization. She was the first Latina to serve as president of the American Public Health Association. In 2001, she received a Presidential Citizen’s Medal for her work in public health and AIDS advocacy.
Since the American Revolution, Latinas and Latinos have served in the U.S. military. Some who served were motivated by patriotism. Others saw the military as a pathway to economic and educational opportunities. Some believed their service could advance Latino civil rights. Latino veterans, such as Esteban Hotesse (1919–1945), and current military personnel continue to shape the U.S. Born in the Dominican Republic, Hotesse enlisted in the army during World War II. Soon after, he became a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first all-Black group of military pilots in the U.S. Armed Forces. He was among a group of Airmen arrested for an act of disobedience following their attempt to integrate an all-White officers’ club. The incident later became known as the Freeman Field Mutiny.
Shaping the Nation through Art: Judy Baca
Latina and Latino artists such as Judy Baca have created a legacy of politically engaged art such as murals, photography, posters, music, and theater. For Mexican American artist Judy Baca, public art such as murals is a tool for empowering communities. Explore Judy Baca’s paint-splattered boots and learn more about her art.