MCW celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

Oct. 3, 2016 MCW News - In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, the Medical College of Wisconsin is publishing a series of stories that highlight and celebrate the histories, cultures and contributions of individuals whose ancestors came from Spain, Portugal, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. We also will post a vignette that highlights a Hispanic member of the MCW community. 

All of the vignettes and stories will be posted on MCW’s Honoring Diversity webpage.

Most heritage months take place within a particular calendar month, but Hispanic Heritage Month is held over parts of two months to incorporate significant dates within the Hispanic community: Sept. 15, which is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua; Sept. 16, which is the anniversary of Mexico’s independence; Sept. 18, which is the anniversary of Chile’s independence; Sept. 21, which is the anniversary of Belize’s independence; and Oct. 12, which is Columbus Day. Columbus Day celebrates the day in 1492 when Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus discovered America.

We also would like to hear from you.
We ask Hispanic members of the MCW community to offer some insights on your culture. Answers will be shared in a future Hispanic Heritage Month story. Take the Cultural/Group Identity survey

This week, we would like to highlight a few famous members of the Hispanic community and some milestones/important dates involving members of the Hispanic community.

Famous Hispanic community members

Roberto ClementeRoberto Clemente
Baseball player (Puerto Rican, 1934-1972)
Proud of his Puerto Rican roots, Roberto Clemente drew attention to the excellence of Latin American players in Major League baseball during the 1960s and early 1970s. A player for the Pittsburgh Pirates, he was the first Puerto Rican to be voted Most Valuable Player. A great fielder and hitter, Clemente was loved by many because of his deep concern for people and work on behalf of his native Puerto Ricans. Clemente was killed in a plane crash on his way to take supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua on New Year's Eve 1972.

Rita MorenoRita Moreno
Actress (Puerto Rican, born 1932)
Rita Moreno is one of only two female performers ever to be given all four of entertainment's biggest awards. She has won a Tony, for theater; a Grammy, for music; an Emmy, for television; and an Oscar for her role in the musical West Side Story. (Barbara Streisand is the other.) She has acted in more than 25 movies and has performed for the president of the United States.


Cesar Chavez
Cesar ChavezUnion leader (Mexican American, 1927-1993)
César Chávez came from a family of poor migrant workers. Through the experiences of his family, he knew the hard lives led by farm workers who came to work in California from Mexico. They had to live in dirty, cramped places and earned little money. In 1962, with Dolores Huerta, he started a group to change these terrible conditions — the United Farm Workers of America. At first the workers were afraid of the produce growers. But Chávez inspired the group and led peaceful protests and boycotts. These actions convinced the growers to sign contracts with the farm workers and to treat them better.

Ellen OchoaEllen Ochoa
Astronaut (Mexican American, born 1958)
Ellen Ochoa was the first Hispanic woman to become an astronaut. A veteran of two space flights, she first flew in space on the shuttle Discovery in 1993. Sally Ride, the first woman astronaut in the U.S., was one of her role models. Ochoa is not only an astronaut but also an inventor, holding three patents. When she is in space, she says that she loves "looking out the window at the Earth."

Gloria Estefan
Gloria EstefanSinger and musician (Cuban American, born 1957)
Gloria Estefan has been loved and admired by people throughout the world not only for her music, but for her bravery in the face of difficulties. Born in Cuba, Estefan came to Miami, Florida, as a young child when her parents fled the Communist government of Fidel Castro. In the late 1970s, she became a singer with the group Miami Sound Machine. In 1990, a terrible accident occurred. Estefan and her family were traveling in their bus when it was hit by a truck. The singer suffered serious injuries. Through patience, hard work, and good fortune, however, she was able to recover fully and return to the stage. Her music remains appreciated by millions of listeners.

Felix LongoriaFelix Longoria
Soldier (Mexican American, 1920-1945)
Felix Longoria was killed in action in 1945 in the Philippines during WW2. When his remains were returned to his home town (Three Rivers, Texas), the local funeral home would not allow him to lay in state and he could not be buried in the white section of the cemetery. When this was reported in national newspapers, Longoria became the first Mexican-American to be interred in Arlington National Cemetery.



Christopher Columbus arrives in the New World, landing in the Bahamas.

First permanent Spanish settlement is established in St. Augustine, Fla.

Joseph Marion Hernandez becomes first Hispanic member of Congress, serving six months as a nonvoting delegate from Florida.

Fourteenth Amendment declares all people born in the United States to be U.S. citizens.

Romualdo Pacheco of California becomes first Hispanic U.S. representative.

Ezequiel Cabeza de Baca of New Mexico becomes first Hispanic U.S. governor.

Octaviano Larrazolo of New Mexico becomes first Hispanic U.S. senator.

César Chávez and Dolores Huerta found National Farm Workers Association, forerunner of United Farm Workers of America.

Congress passes resolution that requests President to annually issue a proclamation declaring the week including Sept. 15 and 16 as National Hispanic Heritage Week.

Roberto Clemente becomes first Hispanic inducted into Baseball Hall of Fame.

Equal Educational Opportunity Act allows for bilingual education.

Robert Goizueta of The Coca-Cola Company becomes the first Latino CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

Congress passes resolution that authorizes President to proclaim the 31 days from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 as National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Secretary of Education Lauro Cavazos becomes first Hispanic Cabinet member.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen becomes first Hispanic woman elected to Congress.

Antonia Novello becomes first Hispanic and first woman Surgeon General.

Arturo Moreno becomes the first Hispanic owner of a major U.S. sports franchise, buying the Anaheim Angels baseball team.

Sonia Sotomayor becomes first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice.

Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis becomes first Hispanic woman Cabinet member.

Susana Martinez of New Mexico becomes first Hispanic woman governor.

The Medical College of Wisconsin prides itself on being an inclusive community where all individuals are valued and respected. We are committed to recognizing, understanding and appreciating the variety of individual differences that make up our community because we know that these differences make our community stronger and more vibrant. The diversity of MCW continues to be an important source of innovative ideas and creative accomplishments.

Throughout the year, we aim to celebrate the stories and histories of ethnic and cultural identities because together, all of these stories make up the larger United States narrative. We hope that through these stories and vignettes, we can honor the diversity of our faculty, staff and students and promote inclusion for all those who make up our community.

If you have any ideas or suggestions for how we can celebrate cultural/group identities at MCW, please share with our editorial team,


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