National Hispanic Heritage month (September 15th through October 15th) pays tribute to the contributions and influences of Hispanic Americans in the United States. In 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson inaugurated the commemoration of Hispanic Heritage as a week-long celebration. Twenty years later, it was expanded to one month by President Ronald Reagan.
Hispanic Heritage Month begins on the anniversary dates of independence for Central and South Americas’ Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Additionally, the month-long celebration occurs around the same time as the anniversaries of Mexico and Chile’s independence days on September 16 and September 18, respectively.
The Spring Creek Sun has cultivated a list of current and former Latino politicians in honor of the Hispanic men and women who have strived to make a difference in the United States.
Melissa Mark-Viverto is the first Latina to hold the New York City Council Speaker position. In addition to being the Council Speaker, she represents the 8th District (covering East Harlem and the South Bronx). Born in Puerto Rico, Mark-Viverto is an activist fighting for immigration and criminal justice reform. She is also an advocate for the Young Women’s initiative.
Carlos Menchaca is the New York City Council Member for District 38 (covering Sunset Park, Red Hood, Greenwood Heights, parts of Borough Park, Dyker Heights, and Windsor Terrace.) Menchaca is both the first Mexican-American elected as a Brooklyn official and openly gay office holder. He has been an advocate for workplace safety, tenant rights, and cyclists’ safety. He also helped author the legislation for the first municipal identification card, IDNYC.
Ritchie Torres is a New York City Council Member, and the Council’s Deputy Leader, who represents the 15th District in Central Bronx. Torres is an advocate for New York City Public Housing (he is the Chair of Public Housing), improving mental health resources (especially for the LGBT community) and police reform.
José Peralta is the first Dominican-American to be elected to the New York State Senate. He represents the Senate’s 13th District, which includes Jackson Heights, Corona, Elmhurst, East Elmhurst, and parts of Woodside and Astoria. Peralta is a strong advocate for job creation, immigration rights, and domestic violence awareness.
Nydia Velázquez is the first Puerto Rican woman elected to
the U.S. House of Representatives, and has served 13 terms as Representative for New York’s 7th Congressional District. In 2006, she became the first Latina to chair a full Congressional committee when she was selected to be the Chairwoman of the House Small Business Committee. She is a champion for Latino empowerment, affordable housing, and quality healthcare and education for New Yorkers.
Adriano Espaillat is a U.S. Representative for New York’s 13th Congressional District. He is the Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) Task Force for Transportation, Infrastructure and Housing. Espaillat is a strong believer in creating a living wage for New Yorkers, affordable housing and increasing educational opportunities.
José E. Serrano is a U.S. Representative for the 15th Congressional District of New York in the Bronx. In addition, he is currently the only New York Congressman serving on the House Appropriations Committee and is the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government.
Robert García was a Bronx Congressman for 12 years. He was one of the first Puerto Rican officials elected in the Bronx. He was a staunch believer in reforming immigration laws, voting rights, and he advocated for building more business in low-income areas to increase economic productivity.