15 Latinx Women in History Our Kids Should Know About

Kids need to see role models who look like them. Here are the Latina trailblazers inspiring our familias during Women's History Month and beyond.

latinx women in history

In 1993 people all over the world watched as Ellen Ochoa became the first Latina woman to rocket into outer space on the Space Shuttle Discovery. While watching astronauts blast off of Earth's surface is always kind of extraordinary in itself, for Latinx kids, watching this Mexican American woman make history was life changing. At that moment those children watching realized that the sky really was the limit. This is what true representation feels like.

When you're a kid, seeing someone who looks like you accomplish something remarkable can mean everything. It can help build self-esteem, cultural pride, and help pave the way for the next generation of changemakers. That's why Women's History Month is more than just a hashtag holiday.

Seeing Latina women succeed at their roles as activists, authors, artists, political leaders, and more enriches our society in countless ways, and encourages children to not only embrace their identities, but to also break down gender stereotypes within our culture. Us adults too! Yes, gone are the days when mami is expected to live in the kitchen all day. From trans activist Bamby Salcedo to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, we've put together a list of changemakers that are opening up doors and inspiring a whole new generation through their actions.

Here Are 15 Latinx Women in History Our Kids Should Know About

01 of 13

Sylvia Rivera

sylvia rivera women's history month
Tobin Kay / New York Public Library Archives

A trailblazer in The Stonewall Inn uprising, Sylvia Rivera, a Puerto Rican and Venezuelan transgender advocate, fought for the inclusion of transgender people—paricularly those of color—who were often overlooked in the larger movement for gay rights. Her persistent efforts resulted in the inclusion of transgender people in the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act in New York. She was also the founder of NYC's Gay Activists Alliance and STAR, which was one of the first youth trans shelters of it's kind.

02 of 13

Celia Cruz

celia cruz 15 women in latinx history

With over 70 albums, a career that spanned over 60 years, and countless awards, it's no wonder Celia Cruz aka the "Queen of Salsa" remains one of the most popular Latin artists of the 20th century. While her musical prowess is enough to make her notable, it's the way the legendary Afro-Latina always wore her Cuban heritage on her sleeve that landed her a spot in so many of our hearts.

03 of 13

Dolores Huerta

dolores huerta 15 latinx women in history

Dolores Huerta is a civil rights and labor leader who, along with Cesar Chavez, established the National Farmworkers Association. In 1965, the Mexican American activist famously organized the Delano strike of 5,000 grape workers to advocate for fair contracts and safer working conditions including the elimination of harmful pesticides.

04 of 13

Rigoberta Menchú

rigoberta menchu 15 latinx women in history

Rigoberta Menchú is a Nobel Peace Prize winner and passionate spokesperson for the rights of Indigenous people. She is also a renowned women's rights activist who, along with five other Nobel laureates, created the Nobel Women's Initiative to promote justice, peace, and equality for women.

05 of 13

Ivy Queen

ivy queen

Born Martha Ivelisse Pesante Rodriguez, the Puerto Rican Reggaetonerra known as Ivy Queen hit the scene in the early 90s at a time when the Reggaeton scene was still just a boys club. With her notable voice and respect for Afro-Panamanian reggaeton roots, it's no wonder Ivy Queen is now one of the most recognized and wealthiest reggaeton artists to date. More recently you can catch her on her podcast Loud where she dives into the History of Reggaeton.

06 of 13

Bamby Salcedo

baby salcedo 15 latinx women in history

Now president and CEO of the TransLatin@ Coalition, a national organization that focuses on addressing the issues of transgender Latinxs in the US, Bamby Salcedo, a Mexican American transgender Latina, has paved the way for trans people everywhere through her social and political action. The transgender activist is widely recognized for her work not only in advocating for LGBTQ+ communities and HIV/Aids education, but also intersecting issues such as healthcare, immigration, and incarceration.

07 of 13

Ellen Ochoa

ellen ochoa
getty images

Ellen Ochoa was the first Hispanic woman to go into outer space via the Space Shuttle Discovery and was part of four other subsequent space flight missions where she studied the sun and its relation to the Earth's atmosphere. She later served as the director of NASA's Johnson Space Center.

08 of 13

Elizabeth Acevedo

elizabeth acevedo 15 women in history

The daughter of Dominican immigrants, Elizabeth Acevedo is an Afro-Latina poet and novelist. Her first book Poet X was warmly received and became a New York Times best seller, National Book Award Winner, and won a Carnegie Medal. Elizabeth has gone on to write Clap When You Land and With the Fire on High and more. Most importantly she's pushing forward conversations about identity within the Latinx Diaspora.

09 of 13

Sonia Sotomayer

sonia sotomayer women in history

Nominated by President Barack Obama in 2009, Sonia Sotomayer became the first Latina Supreme Court Justice in U.S. history. She is best known for participating in two landmark supreme court rulings—upholding a critical component of the Affordable Care Act and granting same-sex marriages legality in all 50 states.

10 of 13

Joan Baez

Joan Baez 15 Latinx women in history
Joan Baez 15 Latinx women in history. getty images

Joan Baez is a beloved Mexican and Scottish folk singer whose songs and lyrics often portray themes of social injustice and protest. Her career spans over 60 years and 30 studio albums. In the 1960s, she was a vocal political activist who was deeply involved in the civil rights movement and anti-Vietnam War rallies.

11 of 13

Michelle Bachelet

michelle bachelet

Michelle Bachelet made history as the first female president of Chile in 2006 and was reelected for a second term in 2014, which at the time made her the first Chilean president re-elected since 1932. She is currently serving as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, a position she's held since 2018.

12 of 13

Rita Moreno

rita moreno

Rita Moreno is best known for playing Anita in the 1961 film version of the musical "West Side Story," the Puerto Rican actress became the first Latina to win a best-supporting actress Oscar for her portrayal of Anita in 1962.

13 of 13

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

AOC latinx women in history

A sorceress at social media, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (also known as AOC), is a politician and social justice activist serving as the U.S. representative for New York's 14th congressional district since 2019. As the youngest woman ever to to get elected to the United States Congress at 29 years old, the Puerto Rican Bronx native (Now 32) is a voice of our times.

Raffi Freedman-Gurspan

Raffi Freedman-Gurspan is a Honduran American transgender rights activist and in 2015 became the first openly transgender person to work as a White House staffer when she was hired by Barack Obama as Outreach and Recruitment Director in the Presidential Personnel Office. She is currently the Deputy Director of Public Engagement at the United States Department of Transportation, as appointed by President Joe Biden.

Miriam Jiménez Román

Puerto Rican American, Miriam Jiménez Román was a renowned scholar, activist, and author on Afro Latino culture. The Afro-Latina's work was dedicated to bringing Black Latinidad to the forefront and has become the foundation for Afro Latino cultural studies which is still discussed in classrooms around the world. She also organized the Black Latinas Know Collective in 2019 to promote and mentor Afro-Latina intellectuals who study Blackness and Latinidad.

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