In this post, we’re celebrating five Hispanic men who have changed history. If you’re looking for a fun way to engage students with Hispanic Heritage Month, consider exploring each of our honorees’ stories together. As a class, discuss how their achievements have changed our lives, and for each historical figure, have students consider questions like:
- What do you admire most about each individual?
- What challenges do you think she had to face in her career?
- What issues or topics was each person most passionate about?
You can even add more names to the list if you want the exercise to last longer. Just don’t forget to come back and tell us how it went! Be sure to share your successes, challenges, and best practices.
Juan Felipe Herrera
Juan Felipe Herrera is an artist best known for his poetry—in fact, in 2015, he was named U.S. Poet Laureate. Herrera is often compared to the Beat Poets, due to his energetic, fluid style and his ability to cross artistic mediums: as a writer, poet, performance artist, and playwright, he’s given voice to the Hispanic community through his words. Most recently, Mr. Herrera has written a series of poems, each in response to a specific shooting or terrorist attack in the United States.
Octaviano Larrazolo became the first Mexican-American United States Senator in 1928. After starting a career as a teacher, he later became a principal, where he fought for civil rights and equality for Spanish-speaking students in education. He followed that passion for his entire career, eventually getting involved with politics: prior to becoming a Senator, he served as the Governor of New Mexico from 1919-1921. Throughout his career, he successfully advocated for Latinx rights on matters ranging from getting the New Mexico state government to recognize the Spanish language in public business to supporting the constitutional amendment for women’s suffrage.
Lin-Manuel Miranda is a Latino composer and playwright famous for creating the Broadway musical Hamilton, and co-writing the songs featured in the Disney movie Moana. A native New Yorker born to Puerto Rican parents, Miranda has delighted audiences with compelling social messages and music that takes influence from a wide range of influences including hip-hop, Latin music, and musical theater. Most recently, he has been an active supporter of restoring Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
Mario Molina is a Mexican chemist who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1995 for his central role in identifying the ozone hole in the Antarctic, as well as humanity’s role in the threat of global warming. His contribution was so significant in shaping the conversation around climate change that he’s received countless other awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013. He currently works with teams around the world to investigate air quality issues, working to take our understanding of the environment even further.
Gabriel García Márquez
Gabriel García Marquez was an author and journalist, best known for his books Cien Años de Soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude) and El Amor en Los Tiempos del Cólera (Love in the Time of Cholera). His books helped create the genre of books known as “magical realism,” where traditional stories are infused with elements of fantasy and magic. His work was so influential that in 1982, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Related blog post: Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month: 5 Latina Women Who Inspire Us