From fighting for justice to being groundbreaking thinkers, artists, athletes, and more, Latinas and Latinos have been breaking boundaries in the United States for centuries. Check out the information below to learn more about famous Latinos and Latinas, from actors to activists.


Click to expand image Painted collage of leaders Cesar Chávez, Dolores Huerta, Miguel Hidalgo, José María Morelos, and Emiliano Zapata.
The Return of Aztlan, 2006, Alfredo Arreguín. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.
Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta

Instrumental in the Civil Rights movement, Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta were leaders in the fight against the unfair treatment of farm workers in the United States. In 1962, they founded the National Farm Workers Association, which later merged with other unions to become the United Farm Workers of America.
Click to expand image Portrait of Xiuhtezcatl Martinez.
Xiuhtezcatl Martínez. Screenshot from the film SOMOS by Alberto Ferreras comissioned by the American Latino Museum. 2021.
Xiuhtezcatl Martínez     Through forms of art and music, Xiuhtezcatl Martínez fights for his communities and grows the conversation around climate, racial, and economic justice.    
Click to expand image Black and white image of Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson holding an umbrella standing behind a wooden police barricade–Sylvia has her fist raised.
LGBT Activists Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson. Gay rights activists at City Hall rally for gay rights (Detail), 1973. Courtesy of the Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library, photo by Diana Davies. 
Sylvia Rivera

A Puerto Rican-Venezuelan activist, Sylvia Rivera was a loud voice in the fight for gay and transgender communities. She criticized racism and economic exclusion within the LGBT community.


Dr. Ellen Ochoa

Ochoa flew aboard the space shuttle Discovery and became the first Latina to go to space in 1993. Her inspirational journey includes a 30-year career with NASA and serving as Johnson Space Center’s first Hispanic director.

Click to expand image Astronaut Ellen Ochoa in a T-38 jet cockpit during flight training
Ellen Ochoa. Courtesy of NASA.

Sonia Sotomayor

Born in New York City to Puerto Rican parents, Justice Sotomayor broke boundaries in 2009 when she became the first Latina and third woman to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States.

Click to expand image Color photo of Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor.
Sonia Sotomayor. Timothy Greenfield- Sanders, 2010. Courtesy of National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, © 2011 Timothy Greenfield-Sanders [NPG.2015.27] 
Luis Álvarez

An experimental physicist, Luis Álvarez joined the Manhattan Project in 1943, which is known for producing the first atomic bombs. The transformational scientist went on to win the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1968. Álvarez is also credited in collaboration with his son, Walter Álvarez, for creating the hypothesis that dinosaurs went extinct 65 million years ago because of an asteroid.
Click to expand image Headshot of Luis Alvarez
Luis Alvarez, Courtesy of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

Born in Cuba, Ros-Lehtinen became a trailblazer as the first Latina elected to the US Congress. She served as a representative from Florida from 1989 to 2019.

Click to expand image Headshot of Ileana Ros-Lehtinen with two flags in the background.
Headshot of Ileana Ros-Lehtinen with two flags in the background.

Entertainers + Athletes

Click to expand image Photograph of Lin-Manuel Miranda in costume for his title role in Hamilton.
Lin-Manuel Miranda. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. © 2016, Mark Seliger.
Lin-Manuel Miranda

Miranda is an award-winning composer, playwright, and actor known for being the creator and original star of Broadway’s Tony-winning musicals “Hamilton” and “In the Heights.” He continues to be a leader in the entertainment industry through his involvement in projects such as Disney’s “Moana” and “Encanto.” Miranda remains active in his efforts to increase the representation of people of color.
Click to expand image USPS stamp of baseball player Roberto Clemente. The stamp displays an illustration of the face of Clemente wearing a baseball hat with a P on it, emblematic of the Pittsburgh Pirates. In the background, there is a Puerto Rican Flag.
Roberto Clemente, postal stamp from the United States Postal Service. © 1984, USPS all rights reserved.
Roberto Clemente     Roberto Clemente Walker played 18 seasons as a right fielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates and was selected to play in every All-Star Game from 1960 until his death, except for the 1968 season when he was suffering from shoulder problems. Born in Puerto Rico, he became the first Latino American Baseball Hall of Fame inductee. Outside of baseball, Clemente was known for his humanitarian efforts. In 1972, he died in a plane crash while bringing earthquake relief supplies to Nicaragua. In 1984, a stamp in honor of Clemente contained the first appearance of the Puerto Rican flag on U.S. postage. His dominance in the game and commitment to humanitarian work made Clemente a beloved athlete and one of the most famous Latinos to have ever played.  
Click to expand image Portrait of Meg Medina.
Meg Medina, 2023-24 National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, January 24, 2023. Photo by Shawn Miller/Library of Congress.
Meg Medina

The “Merci Suarez Changes Gears” author, Meg Medina, received a Newbery Medal in 2019 and has shared that her writing is influenced by her Cuban heritage. Medina currently serves as the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature at the Library of Congress. Through this position, she will engage readers across the country with her platform “¡Cuéntame!: Let’s talk books.”
Click to expand image Portrait fo Cheech Marin.
Cheech Marin. Screenshot from the film SOMOS by Alberto Ferreras comissioned by the American Latino Museum. 2021.
Cheech Marin

A Chicano comedian, actor, musician, activist, and art collector, Cheech Marín gained recognition in the 1970s as part of the comedy duo “Cheech and Chong.” Today, Marín is a strong advocate for Chicano art.

Military Veterans



Latinas and Latinos and U.S. Military Service

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Olga E. Custodio

Custodio was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico and served in the United States Air Force for 24 years. She made history as the first Latina US Military pilot.

Click to expand image Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Olga Custodio, the first Latina U.S. Air Force pilot, is pictured as a first lieutenant while in flight training.
Olga Custodio. Courtesy of the United States Air Force.

Macario García

García became the first Mexican national to receive a Congressional Medal of Honor following his heroic efforts during World War II. García bravely fought while injured to help his fellow soldiers while serving in Germany in 1944. After returning home, he gained his U.S. citizenship and was active in his community and a strong advocate for civil rights.

Click to expand image Army Staff Sgt. Macario García receiven a medal from on of his superiors. Both men are wearing military uniforms.
Army Staff Sgt. Macario García. Courtesy of the United States Army.


Click to expand image Carolina Herrera standing and posing for a picture leaning against a set of full body mirrors. Her image is reflected five times.
"Las cinco Carolinas," Carolina Herrera. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. © 1998, Alexis Rodriguez-Duarte.
Carolina Herrera

Raised in Venezuela, Carolina Herrera arrived in the United States with her family in 1980. Inspired by her European travels and attendance at fashion shows, she launched a clothing brand in New York just one year later, in 1981. The fashion designer’s brand continues to be known for timeless, stylish pieces.
Click to expand image Dr. C. David Molina reading document
Courtesy of Dr. Martha Molina Bernadett.
Dr. C. David Molina

A physician and entrepreneur, Dr. Molina was a trailblazer in the medical community as the founder of Molina Medical Centers. Now called Molina Healthcare Inc., the organization has grown to become a publicly traded Fortune 500 company.    
Click to expand image Group of people during a GOYA Foods public event. One of them speaks into a microphone.
Goya Foods, Incorporated Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Robert Unanue

Grandson of the founders of Goya Foods, a Hispanic-owned food company, Unanue is the organization’s current CEO.

Learn about other famous Latinos and Latinas who have broken boundaries and shaped the United States.

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