Women’s History Month is a month to remind us how far we’ve come and at the same time, it’s a reality check to see how far we still have to go. It’s 2019 and we’re still fighting for equal wages, and female healthcare, but let’s not lose hope. We’ve put together a list of influential women in history who have motivated us personally to keep shining bright (like a diamond) and fight to make our voices heard.
The queen of Tejano music broke barriers being the best-selling artist of the 90s winning the first Best Mexican/American Album Grammy by a female Tejano artist. She was a singer, songwriter, model, actress, fashion designer and the baby of the Quintanilla family. She was only 24 years old when she died. To this day, performing in Houston is an iconic and hommage worthy moment to the queen for artists across all genres. Her Live! show at the Houston Astrodome has become a monument if you will for the Tejano legend. #SiempreSelena
For almost six years, Nanette Diaz Barragán has represented the communities of California; initially, as Hermosa Beach City Council following as Representative of California’s 44th Congressional District being the first Latina in both roles. Today, Nanette’s passion to represent her home communities manifests in her fight to raise the minimum wage, Medicare, stop coastline oil drillings and the infamous border wall with Mexico. #VamosNanette!
Acclaimed poet, Ada Limón has seen success with every piece she publishes for the past 14 years. She received her MFA from NYU in 2001, was awarded a fellowship at Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, a grant from the New York Foundation for the Arts and won the Chicago Literary Award for Poetry – all by the age of 27. But this was just the beginning for Limón, her first book, Lucky Wreck won the Autumn House Poetry Prize in 2005. The second book, This Big Fake World, was awarded the Pearl Poetry Prize in 2006 while her third book, Sharks in the River, received riveting reviews. Bright Dead Things, was Limón’s fourth book which was a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award for Poetry. Clearly, she is a gifted poet and her accomplishments continue to date with her Pushcart Prize for “How to Triumph Like a Girl” and her last collection’s, The Carrying, shortlist for the $75,000 2019 PEN/Jean Stein Book Award. #PoemasDulcesConLimón
Writer, poet, activist, scholar in cultural theory and queer theory, Gloria Anzaldúa gave the country a new perspective on culture and life at the border. Born and raised in Texas, she understood the difference in Chicanos living there than in the interior of the U.S. In her most popular book, Borderlands / La Frontera: The New Mestiza, she describes the intricacies of embracing two cultures to comply with the world’s expectations and in a way, feel like you are part of both cultures – that you belong to both sides of our invisible cultural borders that is. Among her many recognitions, she won the ”American Studies Association Lifetime Achievement Award” in 2001 and the ”LGBT 31 History Icons” in 2012. #NiDeAquiNiDeAllá #TheNewMestiza
At age 64, Sandra Cisneros told NBC she, “is just getting started.” This past February 26th, Sandra received one of the highest literary awards, the International PEN/Nabokov award. In 1984 her book, The House of Mango became a best-seller and a required read in schools. The book has sold over 6 million copies and has been translated in over 20 languages. Her writing style has earned her much recognition with multiple awards such as the American Book Award, MacArthur Genius Grant and the National Medal of the Arts awarded to her by President Obama in 2016. Giving back to the community has been part of her life mission, thus creating the non-profit Macondo Foundation and the Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Foundation. To top it off, she is an organizer of Los MacArturos, Latino MacArthur fellows who are community activists. To sum up, we need more Sandras in the world 🙂 #MacArtura
American labor leader and civil rights activist, Dolores Huerta has been at the forefront of labor support for farmworkers. Together, Cesar Chavez and Dolores joined the Delano grape strike which led to the creation of the United Farm Workers of America in 1966. The Delano strike was succeeded by the Salad Bowl strike and other boycotts contributing to the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act (CALRA) of 1975. Huerta’s representation of farm working women broke gender barriers. After the union, she toured the country empowering women representatives leading to an increase of women involvement in the state, local and federal level. In 2012, she received the highest civilian award in the United States, The Presidential Medal of Freedom. To this day she continues to be an inspiration reminding us that #SiSePuede!
In August 2009, Sonia Sotomayor became the first Latina Justice in the history of the United States. Her rulings have been known to side with “liberal” issues voting in favor of legalizing same sex marriage in all 50 states, maintaining the Affordable Care Act and is known for her down-to-earth attitude. She has been a speaker at multiple universities and ceremonies focusing on topics of ethnic identity, the need for diversity in the U.S., and her journey to the Supreme Court. Her presence as part of “the nine” helps maintain the balance of power within the overall Justice court. If that wasn’t enough, she has written multiple publications with her latest two books aimed to inspire young readers. #MasSotomayor!
Just saying her name brings a smile to our face. The queen of salsa, originally from Havana, Cuba, was the most notable Latin artist of the 20th century. Performing only in Spanish, she was a pioneer celebrating the beauty of Afro-Latinidad. She had twenty-three gold albums, over sixty awards, collaborated with the greatest talents and inspired many to pursue their dreams and enjoy life. Her bio quotes her perfectly, “I have fulfilled my father’s wish to be a teacher as, through my music, I teach generations of people about my culture and the happiness that is found in just living life. As a performer, I want people to feel their hearts sing and their spirits soar.” In addition to her musical accomplishments, U.S. President Bill Clinton awarded her the National Medal of Arts in 1994. She passed away July 2003 but her music and iconic “sazón” is still felt around the world. #Azucar!
These women are just an example of the amazing talent and passion that defines us. Having a month dedicated to celebrate such gender breaking accomplishments is great, but why don’t we celebrate them – and our personal “yes!” moments – everyday?