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latinas in politics

5 Latinas who made political history 

Latinas throughout history have paved the way for Latinas in leadership today. These five Latinas are just a few of many trailblazers who were the firsts in their positions, making it possible for greater Latina representation in politics.

In our world today, we need more diverse leaders so that all populations get represented and Latina issues are heard by leaders. 

Let us celebrate some of the Latinas who made political history and inspire future generations of Latinas to become our next leaders. 

Soledad Chacón 

Soledad Chacón , Photo source: Unknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Soledad Chacón, nicknamed Lala, was the first woman elected to be the Secretary of State of New Mexico, and the first Hispanic woman elected to statewide office in the United States.

She served as acting Governor of New Mexico for two weeks in 1924 when Governor James F. Hinkle traveled to New York for the Democratic National Convention. The lieutenant governor had died in May, leaving Chacón as next in line for the highest position in the state, making her the second woman to act as chief executive of a U.S. state.

In 1934, she was elected to the New Mexico House of Representatives. In this position she served on several committees, including as chair of Rules and Orders of Business. 

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Photo source: United States Congress, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

In 1989, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen became the first Cuban American elected to Congress. She was also the first Republican woman elected to the House from Florida. Previously she had served as Florida’s first Hispanic woman to serve in the State House of Representatives in 1982 and the first to serve in the Florida Senate in 1986.  

In 2011, she gave the first Republican response to the State of the Union address in Spanish in, and gave the third in 2014. Throughout the course of her career she was elected to fourteen full terms, never winning with less than 58%.

Aida Álvarez

Aida Álvarez, Photo source: latinocf.org

Aida Álvarez is a Puerto Rican businesswoman, journalist and politician. From 1997 – 2001, she served as the 20th Administrator of the Small Business Administration under President Bill Clinton and was the first Latina ever to serve in a Cabinet-level position. 

Prior to her role as Small Business Administrator, Aida served as the first Director of the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, appointed by President Clinton in 1993.

Sonia Sotomayor 

Latinas in politics

Sonia Sotomayor, Photo source: Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States, Steve Petteway source, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Sonia Sotomayor is currently an associate justice of the Supreme Court. In 2009, she was nominated by President Barack Obama becoming the third woman to hold the position and the first Latina, and first woman of color to serve on the Supreme Court.

During her time on the Supreme Court, Sotomayor has championed for social issues and been identified with concern for the rights of defendants. She has called for reform of the criminal justice system, making impassioned dissents on issues of race, gender and ethnic identity.

Listen to your favorite books by Latinas on Audible today!

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Catherine Cortez Masto

Official portrait of Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nevada) Date 9 January 2017. Source: senate.gov/

Catherine Cortez Masto is an American lawyer and politician serving as the senior United States senator from Nevada since 2017. A member of the Democratic Party, she was the 32nd attorney general of Nevada from 2007 to 2015. 

She became the first woman elected to represent Nevada in the Senate and the first Latina elected to serve in the upper chamber, taking office in 2017. Later, in 2019, she became Nevada’s senior senator. 

“I think there’s an important role for women to play. And I’m all about tearing down those barriers,” she said in 2017 to NBC News. “I have always said it’s important to have diversity in the United States Senate.”

These Latinas are just a few of many who have broken down barriers to pave the way for greater representation of Latinas in politics. 

According to LatinasRepresent, an initiative led by the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda to increase Latina participation throughout the civic engagement continuum, Latinas currently only makeup 2.6% of Congress. With Latinos making up over 18% of the US population, with 26 million being Latinas, this group needs more leaders representing them. 

Let us continue to support and make room for Latinas in politics and elect them to government positions so that the powerhouse population that is Latinas has their voices heard.


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reproductive rights

NJ Governor Murphy delivers remarks on reports of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade 

Roe v Wade, 410 U.S. 113, was a landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court which ruled that the Constitution of the United States protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction. 

Roe fueled an ongoing abortion debate in the United States about whether or to what extent abortion should be legal, who should decide the legality of abortion, and what the role of moral and religious views in the political sphere should be. 

This debate continued even after the Court’s ruling on January 22, 1973, where the Supreme Court issued a 7–2 decision in favor of “Jane Roe” (Norma McCorvey) holding that women in the United States had a fundamental right to choose whether to have abortions without excessive government restriction and striking down Texas’s abortion ban as unconstitutional.

Roe v Wade, reproductive rights, abortion

Norma McCorvey (Jane Roe) and her lawyer Gloria Allred on the steps of the Supreme Court, 1989. (Photo attribution: Lorie Shaull, on Flickr.)

However, this past Monday, on May 2, 2022, Politico obtained a leaked initial draft majority opinion penned by Justice Samuel Alito suggesting that the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v Wade. Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed the authenticity of the leaked document in a statement released a day later, although he noted that “it does not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case

Read about Women of Color Reproductive Rights

In response to this news, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy issued a statement yesterday, May 3, 2022, regarding the future of reproductive rights in New Jersey.

New Jersey Governor

NJ Governor Phil Murphy. (Photo source: Phil Murphy on Flickr)

“I want to briefly address the reports that the U.S. Supreme Court has voted to overturn the long-standing precedents of both Roe v Wade and Planned Parenthood v Casey and eliminate the federal protection of a woman’s reproductive freedom.

Quite frankly, while enraging, this news is hardly surprising. This is exactly why we took the step we did earlier this year in enshrining every New Jerseyan’s full reproductive rights into state law. 

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. ( Photographer: Steve Petteway / Public domain)

When I stood with lawmakers in October 2020 to introduce the Reproductive Freedom Act, it was just six days after Donald Trump selected Amy Coney Barrett to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. 

 It was as clear then as it is now that this Court, stacked with Trump appointees, could not be trusted to protect women’s reproductive rights.

 If the Court takes this awful step, this decision will have no impact on New Jersey state law or the full right to reproductive freedom under our state law. This remains fully intact, because here in New Jersey, instead of hoping for the best, we prepared ourselves for the worst.

Throughout my governorship, I have fought for a single, basic principle: this must be a decision made between a woman and her doctor, period.

If a right-wing Supreme Court cannot recognize this simple truth, our elected officials in Washington must take matters into their own hands. 

Congress must immediately pass federal legislation protecting the reproductive rights of all Americans, everywhere across this nation. If that means reforming the filibuster, then we need to reform the filibuster.  

We must ensure that every American woman has the freedom that every New Jersey woman has.

And if this Congress won’t protect reproductive freedom, America needs to elect a Congress in November that will.”

As we wait for further developments regarding the state of reproductive rights on the federal level, all eyes are on the Supreme Court.

Colin Powell

Alma and Colin Powell’s lasting American promise to the nation’s youth 

Colin Powell was a trailblazer and role model for Americans. A veteran of the Vietnam War, Powell spent 35 years in the Army and rose to the rank of four-star general before serving as the country’s first Black national security adviser, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and secretary of state. 

Powell passed away on Monday after complications of Covid-19, his family said in a statement on Facebook. Powell had been vaccinated, however he was being treated for myeloma, a blood cancer that impairs the body’s ability to fight infection; this compromised his immune system and the effectiveness of the vaccine, The Associated Press reported. 

“We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American,” the family said. 

Honoring America’s Promise to the nation’s youth through life of service

Born in Harlem to Jamaican immigrant parents, Powell grew up in the South Bronx. His childhood was marked by financial struggle and hardship. In his 1995 autobiography, My American Journey, Powell wrote, “Mine is the story of a black kid of no early promise from an immigrant family of limited means who was raised in the South Bronx.” From these humble beginnings, he rose through the ranks, becoming a prominent public figure in America and breaking barriers. 

Speaking on how Powell’s early years influenced his actions in life, President Biden said, “He believed in the promise of America because he lived it. And he devoted much of his life to making that promise a reality for so many others.”

Alma Powell, author, advocate, speaker and Chair Emeritus, America’s Promise Alliance. (Photo Source)

After retiring from the military in 1993, Powell began dedicating more time to fulfilling that promise. In 1997, Powell became the Founding Chairman of “America’s Promise – The Alliance for Youth”, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children in America. Together with his wife, Alma, they worked to advocate for and improve the lives of children and youth by ensuring that Five Promises are fulfilled in their lives. 

Alma Powell later wrote the children’s book, “America’s Promise” as a way to teach and exemplify America’s Five Promises to children.

In the playful picture book, Alma Powell introduces young readers to the basic principles of America’s Promise — caring adults, safe places, a healthy start, marketable skills, and opportunities to serve.

“Our mission is to mobilize people from every sector of American life to build the character and competence of our nation’s youth by fulfilling five promises for young people,” Alma wrote

The Five Promises ask Americans to step up and create a world where the nation’s children can thrive and achieve adult success: 

  1. Caring Adults in Every Child’s Life – Develop relationships with parents, tutors, mentors, coaches, and other adults with an interest in the child’s well-being.
  2. A Safe Place After School – Create locations with structured activities during non-school hours.
  3. A Healthy Start -Provide good nutrition, protective immunizations, and sound dental care and hygiene.
  4. Marketable Skills – Offer effective education and practical experiences for career development.
  5. Opportunities to Give Back – Encourage community service – so that the cycle continues.

Throughout his life, Colin Powell exemplified these values as a youth advocate, public servant, parent, and leader. His accomplishments and historic firsts as a person of color also made him an inspiration and role model to many young Black Americans. 

Colin Powell

Colin Powell was a trailblazer and role model for Americans, inspiring many through his work, Kamala Harris shares. 

“Every step of the way, when he filled those roles, he was by everything that he did and the way he did it, inspiring so many people,” said Vice President Kamala Harris, speaking on his influence. “Young servicemembers and others not only within the military, but in our nation and around the globe, took notice of what his accomplishments meant as a reflection of who we are as a nation.”

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By the time Powell retired from the military, he was known as one of the most popular public figures in America, “owing to his straightforwardness, his leadership qualities and his ability to speak in blunt tones that Americans appreciated.” (The New York Times) 

“He was a great public servant, starting with his time as a soldier during Vietnam,” said George W. Bush in a statement Monday. “Many presidents relied on General Powell’s counsel and experience. He was such a favorite of presidents that he earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom — twice. He was highly respected at home and abroad. And most important, Colin was a family man and a friend.”

Colin Powell lived a life of service and achieved great accomplishments through his merits. He leaves behind a legacy as trailblazer and role model who broke racial barriers in our nation. As an inspiration to many, his work will continue on, with his lasting American promise to make the world a better place for our youth.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Her living legacy

When asked when will there be enough women on the Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg famously replied, “When there are nine.” Many people were shocked by this response. But why? As Ginsburg herself said, “But there’s been nine men, and nobody’s ever raised a question about that.” As only the second appointed female Supreme Court Justice, Ginsburg spent her entire career challenging preconceived notions about women and fighting for our rights.

She has become an icon for women and young girls and her recent passing on September 18th has left our country in mourning. Many fear for the future of gender equality in the U.S. now that Ginsburg’s seat in the Supreme Court will likely be filled by another conservative judge appointed by President Trump. But her legacy toward gender equality will not be forgotten and as a nation we will continue her fight for the future she dreamed of, where one day there will be nine!

The life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Ruth Joan Bader was born to Nathan and Cecilia Bader March 15, 1933. She grew up in a low-income, working class neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. Throughout her childhood, her mother was a major influence in her life, instilling in her the value of independence and a passion for education.

On her mother’s teachings, Ginsburg once said, “My mother told me to be a lady. And for her, that meant be your own person, be independent.”

Cecelia Bader never attended college herself. Instead she worked in a garment factory and her earnings went toward paying for her brother’s college education. This selfless act left a tremendous impression on Ruth, who spend the rest of her academic career working diligently at her studies.

In 1954, Ginsburg graduated top of her class from Cornell University and later that same year she married fellow law student, Martin D. Ginsburg.

Her academic achievements in the years that followed include attending Harvard Law School as one of eight women in a class of over 500, becoming the first female member of the prestigious Harvard Law Review, transferring to Columbia Law School, graduating top of her class once more, and all while balancing new motherhood and caring for her ill husband.

Despite her outstanding academic record, Ginsburg still faced gender discrimination during this time. At Harvard, she was chided by the law school’s dean for taking the place of qualified males, and later after graduating from Colombia Ginsburg faced difficulty securing employment. However, Ginsburg would eventually rise up to become one of the most influential women in the country.

Fighting for gender equality

Her fight against gender inequality was fought slowly, incrementally, over many decades. People are never ready for sweeping change, and so to change the minds of those around her–who were predominantly men–she needed to play the long game.

In a recent article for The New York Times, Linda Greenhouse writes, “As a lawyer appearing before the Supreme Court, she presented herself as a modest incrementalist. She had to. If she had come before the court as a social revolutionary, the justices — never having viewed the Constitution as having anything to say about women — would have recoiled. Instead, they swallowed the bite-size portions she served to them, and assumptions about the respective roles of men and women — primary wage earner, primary caretaker — that had been baked into the law for eons disappeared, one case at a time.”

This was Ginsburg’s style. She brought people around to her ideas, and fought long and hard to bring about the changes she believed in.

“Fight for the things that you care about,” she once said, “but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”

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Throughout her career she worked to make changes for women and make our country a more fair and equal place. She has been honored with countless awards and recognition for her hard work. In 1999, she was awarded the Thurgood Marshall Award by the American Bar Association for her contributions to gender equality and civil rights and in 2002 she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. She received the American Bar Associations highest honor, the ABA medal, in 2010 and just last month she was selected as this year’s recipient of the National Constitution Center’s Liberty Medal “for her efforts to advance liberty and equality for all.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

U. S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, right, receives the LBJ Liberty & Justice for All Award from Lynda Johnson Robb, left, and Luci Baines Johnson at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 30, 2020. (LBJ Foundation Photo/Jay Godwin)

Ginsburg’s life was one of great accomplishment and we have become a better, more just nation because of her diligent work. Still, there is much more to be done. She has carved the path forward for us, now we must all follow in her footsteps to continue her legacy.

Continuing Ginsburg’s legacy

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

The Courtroom doors draped in black following the death of Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Spetember 18th, 2020.
Credit: Photograph by Fred Schilling, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States.

In recent years, Ruth Bader Ginsburg gained almost a celebrity following among younger generations. Fondly dubbed “Notorious R.G.B.” as a play on the name of late rapper “Notorious B.I.G.”, Ginsburg has become a beloved icon to women and young girls who look up to her as a role model.

On her legacy, Ginsburg said, “To make life a little better for people less fortunate than you, that’s what I think a meaningful life is. One lives not just for oneself but for one’s community.”

Now her legacy is in our hands to continue. As we move forward as a nation, we should remember her words. We, as a society, must work together to make life better for everyone in our communities. Equality is not just for the privileged few, but for all. In recent years, many U.S. citizens seem to have forgotten what freedom and equality really means, and what this country stands for. But Ruth Bader Ginsburg never let her vision for equality waver. She fought until the very end, so that equality could prosper in our nation.

We must now channel her fierce energy and passion into our work as we continue to build a fair and just future for the next generation.

Here I leave you with some parting words from Ginsburg that we should all take to heart.

“Dissents speak to a future age. It’s not simply to say, ‘My colleagues are wrong and I would do it this way.’ But the greatest dissents do become court opinions and gradually over time their views become the dominant view. So that’s the dissenter’s hope: that they are writing not for today, but for tomorrow….We are a nation made strong by people like you.”