This year’s Theme recognizes
the faith, hard work and
perseverance of Hispanic
Americans and how these
outstanding qualities have
helped build the foundation of
our naTion’s socieTy.
Hispanics have risen to great heights
and established their mark on behalf
of U.S. society in many fields of
endeavor. There are literally too
many distinctive landmarks of Hispanic
progress during this century to note in
this reduced space. Here are a few
highlights from business, science,
sports, and politics . In all, a
remarkable century for Hispanics in
the United States.
1900s
1903
In Oxnard, California, more than 1,200 Mexican and Japanese farm
workers organized the first farm worker union, the Japanese-Mexican
Labor Association (JMLA). It was also the first to win a strike against
the already very strong agricultural industry in California.
1905
San Antonio labor organizer Lucy Gonzales Parsons
was one of the prominent founders of the Wobblies, the
International Workers of the World.
1910s
1912
The first Hispanic opera diva in the United States was
Lucrezia Bori, who made her debut at the Metropolitan
Opera in New York City in 1912.
1918
PRIVATE MARCELINO SERNA of Albuquerque, New
Mexico, was the first Hispanic to be awarded the
Distinguished Service Cross for his actions in World
War I.
1920s
1923
Adolfo Luque became the first Hispanic American to
play in the World Series of baseball as a member of
the Cincinnati Reds. Also in 1923, Luque became the
first Hispanic ballplayer to win the pitching
championship in the professional baseball in the
Unites States, with 27 wins, an earned run average of
1.93 and six shutouts.
1925-1926
The first Hispanic leading lady in Hollywood films,
Lupe Vélez, made her debuts.
1928
Octaviano Larrazolo of New Mexico was the first
Hispanic to become a U.S. Senator.
1921-27
José Raúl Capablanca, Cuban chess master and world
champion
1930s
1935
DENNIS CHÁVEZ , in 1935 became the first Hispanic
elected to the U.S. Senate, and held that Senate seat
until his death in 1962. Chávez introduced the Fair
Employment Practices Bill, an important predecessor
of the Civil Rights Act.
1935
Rita Hayworth made her screen debut and was on
her way to becoming the first Hispanic sex goddess
in Hollywood films.
1936
Sixto Escobar became the first Puerto Rican boxer
to win a world championship.
1937
Bert Corona became one of the founders of the
International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen’s
Union. He was one of the main organizers of the
Mexican American Political Association, a civil
rights organization that fought against racism
toward Hispanics.
1940s
1943
PRIVATE JOSE P. MARTINEZ of Taos, New Mexico,
was the first Hispanic to be awarded the Medal of
Honor for his actions in World War II.
1948
Richard Alonso “Pancho” González became the first
Hispanic to win the U.S. tennis singles
championship at Forest Hills.
1950s
1951
Desi Arnaz, with wife Lucille Ball, launches I Love Lucy
and introduces sitcom camera techniques still used
today
1952
COLONEL MANUEL J. FERNANDEZ JR., was the first
Hispanic flying ace who logged 125 combat missions
during the Korean War.
1958
Richie Valens (Ricardo Valenzuela) became the first
Mexican American rock star with his hit recording of
Come on, Let’s Go.
1959
SEVERO OCHOA, a biochemist, physician and professor,
in 1959 became the first Latino to win a Nobel Prize in
Medicine for his discovery of the enzymes that help
produce nucleic acids and allow scientists to synthesize
RNA and DNA.
1960s
1966
ROBERTO CLEMENTE, a Hall of Famer, became the
National League’s MVP in 1966 and the World Series
MVP in 1971. Playing his entire major league career
with the Pittsburgh Pirates, he reached the 3,000-hit
peak, had a lifetime batting average of .317, and hit
240 home runs.
1968
LUIS ALVAREZ became the first U.S.-born Hispanic to
win the Nobel Prize in Physics for his research on
subatomic particles. Alvarez and his son developed
the theory that the extinction of dinosaurs was due to
the crash of a giant meteor into Earth.
1964
HORACIO RIVERO, born in Ponce, Puerto Rico,
was the second Hispanic 4-Star Admiral in
modern Navy time.
1964
At the Tokyo Olympics, Donna De Varona became the
first U.S. Hispanic to win a gold medal in swimming;
she actually won two gold medals in the 400-meter
individual medley and in the 4x100 freestyle.
1970s
1973
Manuel José “Manny” Fernández received the highest
distinction given to any Hispanic in football: He was named
to the All Time Greatest Super Bowl All-Star Team.
1978
Nancy López became the first Hispanic to win the
Ladies Professional Golf Association.
1976
RICHARD E. CAVAZOS, from Kingsville, Texas, was
the first Hispanic 4 Star general in the U.S. Army.
1971
Pablo Neruda, Chilean poet, novelist, diplomat, and
politician who was awarded the Nobel Prize for
Literature.
1980s
1981
Henry Cisneros became the first Hispanic mayor of a
major U.S. city when he was elected Mayor of San
Antonio, Texas the nation's 10th largest city. He also
served as Secretary of HUD, during President
Clinton’s term of office.
1983
Federico Pena became the first Hispanic Mayor of
Denver, Colorado. In 1992, when President Clinton
chose Peña to head the U.S. Department of
Transportation, he became the first Hispanic to hold
that position; and in 1997, he became the first
Hispanic to serve as U.S. Secretary of Energy.
1984
Héctor García Pérez, the founder of the American GI
Forum, became the first Hispanic to be awarded the
United States of America Medal of Freedom.
1985
HENRY B. GONZÁLEZ ,became the first MexicanAmerican in more than a century to be elected to the
Texas State Senate. In 1961, he was elected to the U.S.
House of Representatives and served there until
December 1998, becoming one of the longest tenured
representatives in U.S. history. He died Nov 2000.
1990s
1990
Ellen Ochoa became the first Hispanic female to serve
as an astronaut.
1990
President George Bush appointed the first woman and the
first Hispanic Surgeon General of the United States:
Puerto Rican Antonia Novello.
1992
Bill Richardson became the first Hispanic in
congressional history to serve in a House
leadership position, serving as chief deputy whip.
He later was appointed U.S. ambassador to the
United Nations. He was elected Governor Of New
Mexico in 2003
1994
Carlos Noriega is a Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel and
an Astronaut. Selected by NASA , Noriega reported to the
Johnson Space Center in March 1995. He has flown on
two STS Shuttle Missions. He was born in Lima, Peru, but
considers California his home.
1995
Salsa singer Celia Cruz, “la guarachera de Cuba,”
became the first Hispanic pop singer to be awarded the
National Medal for the Arts; it was presented by
President Bill Clinton.
2000s
2000
President George W. Bush names Mel Martínez to
head the Department of Housing and Urban
Development, making Martínez the first Cuban
American to hold a presidential Cabinet position.
2002
Arturo Moreno made baseball history without putting on a
uniform. He became the first Latino to own a major
professional team outright when he purchased 2002
World Series champions, the Anaheim Angels, from the
Walt Disney Co. for $184 million. Major league baseball’s
owners approved the sale unanimously.
2003
Rafael Palmerio, born in Havana, Cuba became the
19th player and the second Hispanic to hit 500 Home
Runs while playing First Base for the Texas Rangers
Baseball Team.
2003
Lt General Ricardo S. Sanchez from Rio Grande City,
Texas was promoted to be the top military officer In
Iraq by President George W. Bush.
2005
Alberto R. Gonzales, the first Hispanic to serve as
U.S. attorney general.
This presentation was prepared by the Equal
Opportunity Representatives of 191st Infantry
Brigade, Hispanic Heritage Committee.
September 2008
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