In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15), we celebrate the contributions of four notable men and women who paved the way for the rights of Latinos, African-Americans, and Caribbean communities. Below are four courageous and memorable Latinos who paved the way for women’s rights, and freedom within their communities and worldwide.
Photo credit: Noticias Venezuela, http://noticiasvenezuela.org/2016/07/10/a-90-anos-del-natalicio-de-argelia-laya/
Excerpt from: NYtimes.com, Caracas Journal: Ex-Rebel in a Muumuu Becomes a Potent Force, By James Brooke, September 24, 1990.
Venezuelan political activist and defender of women’s rights, Laya was active in the country’s Communist Party and was a co-founder of the Movement Toward Socialism and founder of the National Organization of Women. Argelia (Spanish for Algeria) was an advocate for women, disabled people and also black and indigenous communities. In 1990, Laya became a member of Congress and was elected President of the nation’s left-wing party of her co-founding organization, Movement Toward Socialism.
“When I was young, my father and mother taught me never to allow people to discriminate against me, not for being black, not for being a woman.”
Photo credit: blackwomenofbrazil.co
Excerpt from: blackwomenofbrazil.co
Gonzalez was a Brazilian intellectual, professor and militant of the Monvimento Negro Unificado. She played a fundamental role in the Brazilian feminist movement, combating violence against women, specifically sexual and domestic violence. Gonzalez highlighted the plights of black Brazilian women, oppression in terms of race, gender and socio-economic status. Gonzalez quoted in regards to white privilege and racism in Latin America:
Racism in Latin Americas sophisticated enough to keep blacks and Indians in the subordinate condition within the most exploited class, because it’s most effective form of ideology: the ideology of whitening, so well analyzed by Brazilian scientists. Transmitted by means of communication and the traditional ideological systems, it reproduces and perpetuates the belief that the ratings and values of white Western culture are the only true and universal. Once, established the myth of white superiority proves its efficiency and the effects of violent disintegration, fragmentation of ethnic identity produced by it, the desire to whiten (cleaning the blood” as they say in Brazil), is internalized with the consequent denial of their own race and culture.”
Arturo Alfonso Schomburg
Photo Credit: Mapping the African American Past, http://maap.columbia.edu/place/45
Arturo Alfonso Schomburg was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico in 1874, to a freeborn black midwife from St. Croix and a German merchant living in Puerto Rico. Schomburg founded the famous intellectual and cultural center in New York City, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a subsidiary of the New York Public Library in Harlem. Schomburg’s passion for finding documented pieces and cultivate the accomplishments and contributions of Afro-Latin Americans and African-Americans started when he was in grade school. While in grade school, a teacher claimed that blacks had no history, heroes or contributions to society. Schomburg was inspired to prove him/her wrong by collecting art, literature, slave narratives, and other historical facts to prove that those of African descent have made and continue to make many contributions to society as a whole.
Visit the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture: https://www.nypl.org/about/locations/schomburg
Pedro Albizu Campos
Photo credit: Who is Albizu Campos?
Also known as “El Maestro,” born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, Campos was an attorney, politician and was at the forefront of the Puerto Rican independence movement. Campos spoke six languages and attended Harvard Law School, graduating at the top of his class he became involved in the Irish struggle for independence, around this time he also became interested in India’s fight for independence.
From 1930 until his death in 1965, Campos was the president and spokesperson of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, he also founded the first Women’s Nationalist Committee in Vieques. He led uprisings in several cities in Puerto Rico on behalf of independence from the U.S. government.
“I never believed in numbers. Independence will instead be achieved by the intensity of those that devote themselves totally to the Nationalist ideal.”
-“La Patria es valor y sacrificio” (The Homeland is valor and sacrifice)
Compiled by Evita Girón , Contributing Writer #MyGirlSquad