Famous Latinos and Hispanic Americans You Should Know About

Famous Latinos

As we prepare for Hispanic Heritage Month, I’m preparing a series of posts that highlight Latinx Leaders and famous Latinos or Hispanic Americans.

If you are looking for general resources and ideas on celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, be sure to check out my mega-post for teachers and parents!

Notable Hispanic Americans*

When I sat down to make these lists, I wanted the first one to refer to Hispanic-Americans or American Latinos. If you do a search for “famous Hispanic Americans,” it tends to pull up lists of famous people who speak Spanish, from anywhere around the world.

The original intent of Hispanic Heritage Month, though, was to honor people of Hispanic descent (from a Spanish-speaking country) who contributed to the United States.

Here’s a description of HHM from the Department of Eduation:

Hispanic Heritage Month takes place September 15 to October 15 every year as a time to recognize and celebrate the many contributions, diverse cultures, and extensive histories of the American Latino community. Beginning in 1968, Hispanic Heritage Month was originally observed as “Hispanic Heritage Week” under President Lyndon Johnson, but it was later extended to a month during President Ronald Reagan’s term in 1988.

White House Hispanic Prosperity Initiative, Dept. of Education

24 Famous Latinos From the United States

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Member of Congress
Puerto-Rican American (October 13, 1989)
See her story and more resources here.

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Antonia Novello

U.S. Surgeon General
Puerto-Rican American (August 23, 1944)
See her story and more resources here.

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Celia Cruz

Singer
Cuban-American (1925 – 2003)
See her story and more resources here.

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César Chavez

Activist, labor leader
Mexican-American (1927 – 1993)
See his story and more resources here.

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Dolores Huerta

Labor Leader
Mexican-American (April 10, 1930)
See her story and more resources here.

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Ellen Ochoa

Astronaut
Mexican-American (May 10, 1958)
See her story and more resources here.

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France Córdova

Astrophysicist
Irish-Mexican-American (May 10, 1958)
See her story and more resources here.

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Gary Soto

Author, Poet
Mexican-American (April 12, 1952)
See his story and more resources here.

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Gloria Estefan

Singer
Cuban-American (September 1, 1957)
See her story and more resources here.

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Helen Rodriguez-Trías

Physician
Puerto-Rican -American (1929 – 2001)
See her story and more resources here.

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Isabel Allende

Writer
Chilean-American (August 2, 1942)
See her story and more resources here.

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Jennifer Lopez

Actress, singer, dancer, and performer.
Puerto-Rican – American (July 24, 1969)
See her story and more resources here.

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Joan Baez

Folk singer, Songwriter, Political activist
Mexican-Scottish-American (January 9, 1941)
Read her story and more resources here.

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Jorge Ramos

Journalist
Mexican – American (March 16, 1958)
Read his story and more resources here.

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Julia Alvarez

Author, Poet
Dominican – American (March 27, 1950)
See her story and more resources here.

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Laurie Hernandez

Gymnast
Puerto-Rican – American (June 9, 2000)
See her story and more resources here.

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Lin-Manuel Miranda

Actor, Composer, Writer, Producer
Puerto-Rican – American (January 16, 1980)
Read his story here.

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Mario Molina

Scientist, Chemist
Mexican – American (March 19, 1943)
See his story and more resources here.

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Oscar De La Hoya

Boxer
Mexican-American (February 4, 1973)
See his story here.

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Oscar De La Renta

Fashion Designer
Dominican-American (July 22, 1932)
See his story and more resources here.

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Rita Moreno

Actress, Singer
Puerto-Rican-American (December 11, 1931)
See her story and more resources here.

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Roberto clemente

Baseball Player
Puerto-Rican-American (1934-1972)
See his story and more resources here.

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Sandra Cisneros

Writer, Teacher
Mexican-American (December 20, 1954)
See her story and more resources here.

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Selena Quintanilla

Singer, Designer
Mexican-American (April 16, 1971)
See her story and more resources here.

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Sonia Sotomayor

U.S. Supreme Court Judge
Puerto-Rican-American (June 25, 1954)
See her story and more resources here.

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Sylvia Mendez

Activist
Puerto-Rican-Mexican-American (June 7, 1936)
See her story and more resources here.

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Tito Puente

Percussionist, Musician
Puerto-Rican-American (1923-2000)
See his story and more resources here.

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If you are working with kids and learning about famous Latino leaders, check out this free growing pack of coloring pages!

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    Famous Hispanics from Around the World

    Many educators like to use Hispanic Heritage Month to celebrate Latino contributions from all around the word. Here is a good starter list of names!

    This list includes famous Latino-Americans Spanish-speakers you should know about: Latino leaders, athletes, writers, scientists, artists, and more.

    Each link includes top quotes, printables, videos, and more on each person!

    Cantinflas (Mario Moreno)

    Actor, Screenwriter, Producer
    Mexican (1911 – 1993)
    See his story and more resources here.

    Image: Public Domain

    Diego Rivera

    Painter, Muralist
    Mexican (1886 – 1957)
    See his story and more resources here.

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    El Santo

    (Rodolfo Guzmán Huerta), Wrestler
    Mexican (1917 – 1984)
    See his story and more resources here.

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    Emiliano Zapata

    Military Leader, Revolutionary
    Mexican (1879 – 1919)
    See his story and more resources here.

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    Eva Perón

    Actress, Activist, and Philanthropist
    Argentinian (1919 – 1952)
    See her story and more resources here.

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    Frida Kahlo

    Artist, Painter
    Mexican (1907 – 1954)
    See her story and more resources here.

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    Gabriel García Márquez

    Writer
    Mexican (1927 – 2014)

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    GabrielA Mistral

    Poet-Diplomat, Nobel Prize
    Chilean (1889 – 1957)
    See her story and more resources here.

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    Gael García Bernal

    Actor, Producer
    Mexican (November 30, 1978)

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    Lionel Messi

    Soccer Player
    Argentinian (June 24, 1987)
    See his story and more resources here.

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    Pablo Neruda

    Poet-Diplomat, Politician
    Chilean (1904 – 1973)
    See his story and more resources here.

    Image: Public Domain

    Pablo Picasso

    Artist, Sculptor, Painter
    Spanish (1881 – 1973)
    See his story and more resources here.

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    Pancho Villa

    Military Leader, Revolutionary
    Mexican (1878 – 1923)
    See more information and resources here.

    Image: Public Domain

    Rigoberta Menchú Tum

    Activist, Nobel Peace Prize
    Guatemalan (1904 – 1973)
    See her story and more resources here.

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    Sor Juana de Inés De la Cruz

    Writer, Poet, Philosopher
    Mexican (1648 – 1695)

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    Lists of Famous Latinos by genre

    Here you can browse my posts set up by genre– famous Latino and Hispanic artists, scientists, athletes, leaders, and more.

    Famous Hispanic artists and painters

    Famous Spanish-Speaking Artists

    Read about painters and artists who made waves in both Latin America and Spain.
    Read more here.

    Afro-Latino and Afrolatinidad Resources

    Afro-Latino Music

    See a playlist featuring Afro-Latino artists and musicians who are famous and making waves in the music world.
    Read the interviews here.

    Inspiring Latinas

    22 Famous Latinas

    Learn about 22 famous Latina role models who broke barriers and made history.
    Read the post here.

    *I know many people don’t like the term “Hispanic Americans,” and I think that’s very fair. Let’s be honest: Hispanic basically means “formerly colonized by Spain,” while America can technically apply to all of the Americas.

    The terms are evolving right now, and in meantime we have to deal with less-than-perfect terminology or new terms some countries don’t use yet.

    What famous Latinos and Hispanic leaders did I miss? Let me know in the comments below!

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