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.


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.
Xiuhtezcatl Martínez     Through forms of art and music, Xiuhtezcatl Martínez fights for his communities and grows the conversation around climate, racial, and economic justice.    
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.

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.

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.

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.

Entertainers + Athletes

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.
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.  
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.”
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.

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.


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.
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.    
Robert Unanue

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

Pioneering Naturalists

Alida Ortiz Sotomayor     Sotomayor had a deep appreciation for the outdoors of her native Puerto Rico. In 1958, she was the first in her family to attend college and, by 1976, became Puerto Rico's first woman to earn a Marine Sciences Ph.D. from the University of Puerto Rico. Alida co-founded and directed the Coastal Marine Biology Program at the University of Puerto Rico in Humacao. She developed the Island’s first Earth Sciences curriculum for public schools and trained many teachers in Marine Education. As a scientist, she advocated for the preservation of Puerto Rico's marine life.
George Meléndez Wright     The first Salvadoran and Latino in a professional role at the National Park Service (NPS), was deeply passionate about nature and wildlife. He led wildlife conservation efforts at Yosemite National Park, conducting multiple studies. Fluent in Spanish, he served as a translator for culture keeper Yotuya Lebrado in Yosemite. Despite a tragic accident cutting his life short, Meléndez Wright's legacy includes revolutionizing wildlife conservation and sustainability in our National Parks. 

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

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