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Heritage Month Information & Resources

National Hispanic Heritage Month is Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 in the United States to recognize the contributions and influence of Hispanic Americans on the history, culture and achievements of the country.

Jump to the Library's Heritage Month Resource List

Notable Hispanics

SOURCE: https://www.biography.com/news/notable-hispanic-americans

CÉSAR MILSTEIN

Nobel Prize winning biochemist César Milstein opened new doors in the diagnosis and treatment of disease with his 1975 study on monoclonal antibodies. Milstein and his team developed a technique for the unlimited production of monoclonal antibodies, a type of antibody made by identical immune cells. Thanks to Milstein’s work, monoclonal antibodies are now used in everything from diagnostic tests to the treatments of several autoimmune diseases.

FRANCE A. CÓRDOVA

Astrophysicist France A. Córdova is the director of the National Science Foundation, a federal agency that develops programs to advance all fields of scientific discovery. She was nominated for the position in 2014 by President Barack Obama. Before overseeing America’s science and scientific education programs, Córdova conducted important research on x-ray and gamma ray sources, accretion discs and black holes, publishing more than 150 scientific papers. In 1993, she became the first woman to hold the position of NASA Chief Scientist.

Luis Miguel

“El Sol de Mexico” (The Sun of Mexico), as he is affectionately known, Luis Miguel is the perfect package – movie star looks, old-world elegance, unwavering cultural pride and silky-smooth vocals. After a string of pop hits in the '80s, he made traditional mariachi music and boleros appealing to a younger audience. Whether the tempo is slow or fast, he still sounds oh-so-good.

Celia Cruz

The undisputable queen of salsa, Cuban-born Celia Cruz brought a larger-than-life, almost matriarchal persona to a male-dominated genre during the Fania era. With raw, undiluted vocal prowess, a chispa (spark) that spread like a solar flare, and an innate sense of rhythm and swing informed by her African ancestors, Celia was a star unlike any other. To this day, songs like “La Vida es un Carnaval” and “La Negra Tiene Tumbao” are a testament to her place in musical history.

Ricky Martin

Ricky Martín ignited the 1990s Latin music explosion, gaining worldwide fame with “Livin' La Vida Loca,” “La Copa de la Vida” and other '90s hits, and he hasn’t slowed down since. The former Menudo member has continued to make news with his Latin pop music and his much-chronicled personal life.

Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderón (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈfɾiða ˈkalo])

Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderón was a Mexican painter known for her many portraits, self-portraits and works inspired by the nature and artifacts of Mexico. Inspired by the country's popular culture, she employed a naïve folkart style to explore questions of identity, postcolonialism, gender, class and race in Mexican society. Her paintings often had strong autobiographical elements and mixed realism with fantasy. In addition to belonging to the post-revolutionary Mexicayotl movement, which sought to define a Mexican identity, Kahlo has been described as a surrealist or magical realist. She is known for painting about her experience of chronic pain.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor

Before being appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Obama in 2009, Justice Sonia Sotomayor was on the board of directors of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and an instructor at New York University School of Law and Columbia Law School. Born in Bronx, New York, to Puerto Rican-born parents, Sotomayor was in the majority in two major Supreme Court landmark rulings in the last term: King v. Burwell and Obergefell v. Hodges.

Antonia C. Novello

Dr. Antonia C. Novello was the first woman and the first Hispanic to become surgeon general of the United States, after serving for two decades at the National Institutes of Health. As surgeon general, she focused on the health of young people, women and minorities, and spoke out against drinking, smoking and drug abuse. After serving in that role, Novello worked as UNICEF’s special representative for health and nutrition. She also became a visiting professor of health policy at Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public health, and was the Commissioner of Health for the State of New York.

B.D. Owens Library: Hispanic Heritage Month’s Resource List

During Hispanic Heritage Month, read the works of remarkable Hispanic Authors to learn about Hispanic history, achievements, struggles and culture. Below is a selected list of books available at the B.D. Owens Library. 

READER’s LIST

NAME and AUTHOR SUMMARY

The book of unknown Americans | Cristina Henríquez

Moving from Mexico to America when their daughter suffers a near-fatal accident, the Riveras confront cultural barriers, their daughter's difficult recovery and her developing relationship with a Panamanian boy.

Fat chance, Charlie Vega | Crystal Maldonado.

Overweight 16-year-old Charlie yearned for her first kiss while her perfect best friend, Amelia, fell in love, so when she finally starts dating and learns the boy asked Amelia out first, she is devastated.

Of women and salt | Gabriela Garcia.

A sweeping, masterful debut about a daughter's fateful choice, a mother motivated by her own past, and a family legacy that begins in Cuba before either of them was born. In present-day Miami, Jeanette is battling addiction. Daughter of Carmen, a Cuban immigrant, she is determined to learn more about her family history from her reticent mother and makes the snap decision to take in the daughter of a neighbor detained by ICE. Carmen, still wrestling with the trauma of displacement, must process her difficult relationship with her own mother while trying to raise a wayward Jeanette. Steadfast in her quest for understanding, Jeanette travels to Cuba to see her grandmother and reckon with secrets from the past destined to erupt. From nineteenth-century cigar factories to present-day detention centers, from Cuba to Mexico, Of Women and Salt is a kaleidoscopic portrait of betrayals - personal and political, self-inflicted and those done by others - that have shaped the lives of these extraordinary women. A haunting meditation on the choices of mothers, the legacy of the memories they carry, and the tenacity of women who choose to tell their stories despite those who wish to silence them, this is more than a diaspora story; it is a story of America's most tangled, honest, human roots. -- From dust jacket.

A long petal of the sea | Isabel Allende (translated from Spanish by Nick Caistor & Amanda Hopkinson)

In the late 1930s, civil war gripped Spain. General Franco and his Fascists overthrew the government; hundreds of thousands fled over the mountains to the French border. Roser, a pregnant young widow, finds her life intertwined with that of Victor Dalmau, an army doctor and the brother of her deceased love. To survive, the two must unite in a marriage neither of them wants; Sponsored by poet Pablo Neruda, they embark on the SS Winnipeg along with 2,200 other refugees in search of a new life. Emigrate to Chile as the rest of Europe erupts in World War, they discover their trials are just beginning. -- adapted from jacket.

Undocumented: a Dominican boy's odyssey from a homeless shelter to the Ivy League | Dan-el Padilla Peralta

"Throughout his youth, Dan-el navigated...two worlds: the rough streets of East Harlem, where he lived with his brother and his mother and tried to make friends, and the ultra-elite halls of a Manhattan private school, where he could immerse himself in a world of books and where he soon rose to the top of his class. From Collegiate, Dan-el went to Princeton, where he thrived, and where he made the momentous decision to come out as an undocumented student in a Wall Street Journal profile a few months before he gave the salutatorian's traditional address in Latin at his commencement."

I am not your perfect Mexican daughter | Erika L. Sánchez

When the sister who delighted their parents by her faithful embrace of Mexican culture dies in a tragic accident, Julia, who longs to go to college and move into a home of her own, discovers from mutual friends that her sister may not have been as perfect as believed.

Trejo: my life of crime, redemption, and Hollywood | Danny Trejo

For the first time, the full, fascinating, and inspirational true story of Danny Trejo's journey from crime, prison, addiction, and loss to unexpected fame as Hollywood's favorite bad guy with a heart of gold"-- Provided by publisher.

Raised in an abusive home, Trejo struggled with heroin addiction and did stints in some of the country's most notorious state prisons. Here he takes us through the ups and downs of his life. He reveals how he managed the horrors of prison, rebuilt himself after finding sobriety and spirituality in solitary confinement, and draws inspiration from the adrenaline-fueled robbing heists of his past for the film roles that made him a household name. Although he has inspired countless others on their own road to recovery and redemption, he struggles to help his children with their personal battles with addiction, and to build relationships that last.

Afterlife | by Julia Alvarez

Antonia Vega has just retired from the college where she taught English when her beloved husband, Sam, suddenly dies. And then more jolts: her bighearted but unstable sister disappears, and Antonia returns home one evening to find a pregnant, undocumented teenager on her doorstep. Antonia has always sought direction in the literature she loves, but now she finds that the world demands more of her than words. Now she questions: How do we live in a broken world without losing faith in one another or ourselves? -- adapted from jacket.

Mexican gothic | Silvia Moreno-Garcia

After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemi Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She's not sure what she will find--her cousin's husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemi knows little about the region. Noemi is also an unlikely rescuer: She's a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she's also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin's new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemi; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi's dreams with visions of blood and doom. Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family's youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemi, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family's past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family's once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemi digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

Daughter of fortune | Isabel Allende (translated from the Spanish by Margaret Sayers Peden)

A Chilean woman searches for her lover in the goldfields of 1840s California. Arriving as a stowaway, Eliza finances her search with various jobs, including playing the piano in a brothel.

How the García girls lost their accents | by Julia Alvarez

In the 1960s, political tension forces the García family away from Santo Domingo and towards the Bronx. The sisters all hit their strides in America, adapting and thriving despite cultural differences, language barriers, and prejudice. But Mami and Papi are more traditional, and they have far more difficulty adjusting to their new country. Making matters worse, the girls--frequently embarrassed by their parents--find ways to rebel against them.

Viva Frida! | Yuyi Morales ; photography by Tim O'Meara

A young woman searches. She sees. She explores and finally she creates. With spare, polishes text and luscious illustrations, Yuyi Morales explores the passionate, imaginative life of the incomparable Frida Kahlo.

Esperanza rising | Pam Muñoz Ryan

Esperanza and her mother are forced to leave their life of wealth and privilege in Mexico to go work in the labor camps of Southern California, where they must adapt to the harsh circumstances facing Mexican farm workers on the eve of the Great Depression.

My (underground) American dream: my true story as an undocumented immigrant who became a Wall Street executive | Julissa Arce

"For an undocumented immigrant, what is the true cost of the American dream? Julissa Arce shares her story in a riveting memoir. When she was 11 years old Julissa Arce left Mexico and came to the United States on a tourist visa to be reunited with her parents, who dreamed the journey would secure her a better life. When her visa expired at the age of 15, she became an undocumented immigrant. Thus, began her underground existence, a decades long game of cat and mouse, tremendous family sacrifice, and fear of exposure. After the Texas Dream Act made a college degree possible, Julissa's top grades and leadership positions landed her an internship at Goldman Sachs, which led to a full-time position--one of the most coveted jobs on Wall Street. Soon she was a vice president, a rare Hispanic woman in a sea of suits and ties, yet still guarding her 'underground' secret. In telling her personal story of separation, grief, and ultimate redemption, Arce shifts the immigrant conversation, and changes the perception of what it means to be an undocumented immigrant"-- Provided by publisher.

Sovereign acts: contesting colonialism across indigenous nations and Latinx America | edited by Frances Negrón-Muntaner

This paradigm-shifting work examines the new ways colonized peoples resist subjugation and reclaim rights and political power--Provided by publisher.

Hostile intent: U.S. covert operations in Chile, 1964-1974 | Kristian Gustafson

Chronology -- Introduction: The CIA in Chile -- The campaign begins : Chile's 1964 presidential election -- Supporting the moderates : the 1969 congressional election -- Last minute scramble : Track I efforts to avert an Allende presidency -- The dangerous second track : the assassination of General Schneider -- Watching history unfold : dealing with President Allende -- The CIA and ITT : the agency response to corporate interest -- The campaign ends : the fall of the Allende government -- Coda : post-coup operations -- Conclusion: The Chilean campaign in perspective -- Appendix: Glossary and dramatis personae.

Stories from Latin America= Historias de Latinoamérica | Genevieve Barlow

These enduring legends offer insights into the history and culture of Latin American countries. For ease of comprehension, they are told in both Spanish and English, on facing pages.

Rhythms of race: Cuban musicians and the making of Latino New York City and Miami, 1940-1960 | Christina D. Abreu

Among the nearly 90,000 Cubans who settled in New York City and Miami in the 1940s and 1950s were numerous musicians and entertainers, black and white, who did more than fill dance halls with the rhythms of the rumba, mambo, and cha cha chá. In her history of music and race in midcentury America, Christina D. Abreu argues that these musicians, through their work in music festivals, nightclubs, social clubs, and television and film productions, played central roles in the development of Cuban, Afro-Cuban, Latino, and Afro-Latino identities and communities. Abreu draws from previously untapped oral histories, cultural materials, and Spanish-language media to uncover the lives and broader social and cultural significance of these vibrant performers"--Provided by publisher.

Music in the Hispanic Caribbean: experiencing music, expressing culture | Robin Moore

Music and Spanish colonization -- Cultural legacies of the slave trade -- Creolized dance music -- Transnational Caribbean musics -- Political song -- Dialogues with blackness.

Listening to salsa: gender, Latin popular music, and Puerto Rican cultures | Frances R. Aparicio

"The pulsing beats of salsa, merengue, and bolero are a compelling expression of Latino/a culture, but few outsiders comprehend the music's implications in larger social terms. Frances R. Aparicio combines the approaches of musicology and sociology with literary, cultural, Latino, and women's studies to offer a detailed genealogy of Afro-Caribbean music in Puerto Rico. She compares the music to selected Puerto Rican literary texts, then looks both at how Latinos/as in the United States use salsa to reaffirm their cultural identities and how Anglos eroticize and depoliticize it in their adaptations. The close examination of lyrics shows how these songs articulate issues of gender, desire, and conflict, and Aparicio's interviews with Latinas/os reveal how they listen to salsa and the meanings they find in it."--BOOK JACKET.

The house on Mango Street | Sandra Cisneros

In celebration of the tenth anniversary of its initial publication, and with a new introduction by the author, here is Sandra Cisnero's greatly admired and best-selling novel of a young girl growing up in the Latino section of Chicago. Acclaimed by critics, beloved by children and their parents and grandparents, taught everywhere from inner-city grade schools to universities across the country, and translated all over the world, The House on Mango Street has entered the canon of coming-of-age classics even as it depicts a new American landscape." "Sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous, The House on Mango Street tells the story of Esperanza Cordero, whose neighborhood is one of harsh realities and harsh beauty. Esperanza doesn't want to belong - not to her run-down neighborhood, and not to the low expectations the world has for her. Esperanza's story is that of a young girl coming into her power, and inventing for herself what she will become." "The San Francisco Chronicle has called The House on Mango Street "marvelous... spare yet luminous. The subtle power of Cisnero's storytelling is evident. She communicates all the rapture and rage of growing up in a modern world." It is an extraordinary achievement that will live on for years to come."--[book jacket]

The brief wondrous life of Oscar Wao | Junot Díaz

Things have never been easy for Oscar, a sweet but disastrously overweight, lovesick Dominican ghetto nerd. From his home in New Jersey, where he lives with his old-world mother and rebellious sister, Oscar dreams of becoming the Dominican J. R. R. Tolkien and, most of all, of finding love. But he may never get what he wants, thanks to the Fukœ-the curse that has haunted the Oscar's family for generations, dooming them to prison, torture, tragic accidents, and, above all, ill-starred love. Oscar, still waiting for his first kiss, is just its most recent victim.

Ex Mex: from migrants to immigrants | Jorge G. Castañeda

This book was written for all levels of readers interested in immigration issues, from general to expert. It provides a current, well-informed, and solidly grounded Mexican perspective on Mexican immigration to the U.S. Topics addressed include the current generation of immigrants, why they have chosen to move to the U.S., where they work, their ultimate goals, and possible ways to address the multiple concerns about the continuing immigration of Mexicans to the U.S.

The alchemist | Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist is the magical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure as extravagant as any ever found. From his home in Spain he journeys to the markets of Tangiers and across the Egyptian desert to a fateful encounter with the alchemist. The story of the treasures Santiago finds along the way teaches us, as only a few stories have done, about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, learning to read the omens strewn along life's path, and, above all, following our dreams.

Isabel and her colores go to school | written by Alexandra Alessandri (illustrated by Courtney Dawson)

"English just feels wrong to Isabel. She prefers her native Spanish. As she prepares for a new school, she knows she's going to have to learn. Her first day is uncomfortable, until she employs her crayons and discovers there's more than one way to communicate with new friends"-- Provided by publisher.

 

Movie List

TITLE SUMMARY

 Coco

Despite his family's generations-old ban on music, Miguel dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz. Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead following a mysterious chain of events. Along the way, he meets charming trickster Hector, and together, they set off on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel's family history.

Like water for chocolate

Romantic fantasy set in early 20th century Mexico about a young couple, Tita and Pedro, blocked from marrying by a family tradition strictly enforced by Tita's cold and selfish mother. To be near his love the young man marries her sister, while Tita, as the family cook, expresses her passion for him through her cooking.

McFarland, USA

Inspired by the 1987 true story, the movie follows novice runners from McFarland, an economically challenged town in California's farm-rich Central Valley, as they give their all to build a cross-country team under the direction of Coach Jim White, a newcomer to their predominantly Latino high school. With grit and determination, the unlikely band of runners eventually overcomes the odds to forge not only a championship cross-country team but an enduring legacy as well.

La misma luna (Under the same moon)

Tells the parallel stories of nine-year-old Carlitos and his mother, Rosario. In the hopes of providing a better life for her son, Rosario works illegally in the U.S. In Mexico, her mother cares for Carlitos. Unexpected circumstances drive both Rosario and Carlitos to embark on their own journeys in a desperate attempt to reunite. Along the way, mother and son face challenges and obstacles but never lose hope that they will one day be together again.

La historia oficial (The official story)

An Argentine teacher lives in blissful ignorance of the evils perpetrated by her country's government. Over time, she begins to suspect that her adopted daughter may have been the child of a murdered political prisoner. When she attempts to unearth the truth, her investigation reveals levels of political corruption so abhorrent that the illusions of her past life are irrevocably shattered.

Tortilla Soup

A Mexican-American father and chef lost his ability to taste but his family still lives by one simple rule: be at home for Sunday dinner.

My Family

An epic film that traces over three generations of an immigrant family’s trials, tribulations, tragedies and triumphs.

Real Woman Have Curves

A coming of age story of a first-generation Latina, her very traditional parents and the struggle to find a balance between mainstream ambitions and cultural heritage.

Stolen Education

Stolen Education documents the untold story of Mexican-American school children who challenged discrimination in Texas schools in the 1950’s and changed the face of education in the Southwest.

Dolores

Raising 11 children while wrestling with gender bias, union defeat and victory, and nearly dying after a San Francisco Police beating, Dolores Huerta bucks 1950s gender conventions to co-found the country’s first farmworkers union.