Vanguard is a Hispanic woman-owned PR and social marketing firm that has been working for more than 30 years to open hearts and minds about issues and individuals and realize a more inclusive and equitable world. Through the years, we’ve recognized several Communicators of the Month from the Hispanic community whose voices paved our way in advancing social change and equity in our country.
In recognition of National Hispanic Heritage Month, we wanted to honor these individuals again and recognize the contributions and influence these Hispanic Americans had on our history, culture, achievements and future opportunities.
Here are some of the remarkable advocates we have featured in our calendar over the years (listed in alphabetical order).
ALBERT VINICIO BAEZ
Alberto Vinicio Baez, also known as Albert Baez, was a Mexican American physicist. Baez co-developed the first X-ray reflection microscope for examination of living cells, a technology still in use today. He also was a renowned pacifist who turned his back on the defense industry in favor of a career in academia, devoting his time to humanitarianism and education. Learn more about Albert Vinicio Baez’s contributions to modern science and his altruistic endeavors.
Luisa Capetillo made headlines as the first woman in Puerto Rico to wear pants in public. Uninhibited by the traditional gender roles of the early 20th century, Capetillo’s radical ways of thinking positioned her as a leader in the feminist labor movement, a prominent member of the labor union, and one of Puerto Rico’s first suffragists. Learn how Louisa Capetillo used writing and journalism to shine a light on the oppression and discrimination women faced and encourage them to fight for social equality and justice.
Roberto Clemente was a Puerto Rican professional Major League Baseball (MLB) player with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Due to his accomplishments on the field, he was both the first Latin American and Caribbean player to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. As a nod to Clemente’s well-known charitable work in Latin America, MLB’s Roberto Clemente Award is given annually to the player who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team.” Learn more about Roberto Clemente’s charitable work and how he fought back against segregation and racism in the United States.
JULIA DE BURGOS
Julia de Burgos was a Puerto Rican poet. Despite experiencing poverty, she attended college at the University of Puerto Rico, where she was active in the feminist and nationalist movements — and began to write poetry about social justice and women’s rights. After college, she became a member of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party (Partido Nacionalista de Puerto Rico) and also a well-known published author. Learn how Julia de Burgos’ legacy and life have inspired numerous short stories, ballets, articles and other works of art.
Bolivian-born teacher Jaime Escalante was driven by his desire and passion to succeed. The son of two teachers, Escalante understood the importance of an education. He also believed that through effective communication, a teacher could open a student’s world to possibility and provide the encouragement they needed to reach their full potential and overcome adversity. Learn how Jaime Escalante led hundreds of students to excel not only in math, but in college and their careers before his retirement in 1998.
Jovita Idár was a journalist, teacher, political activist and civil rights advocate who championed the causes of Mexican-Americans and Mexican immigrants. She decided the most effective way she could create lasting change was through journalism, where she reported on the violence and racism her community was enduring. As time went on, Idár’s articles took on a new topic: advocating for women’s suffrage. Learn more about Jovita Idár’s impact and commitment to her community.
José Montoya was an influential Chicano bilingual poet and an artist. He and his family were migrant farm workers in Sacramento, California. Montoya started helping in the fields at age nine. In the 1970s, he co-founded the Royal Chicano Air Force, a collection of artists-turned-activists who used their words, music and images to fight for justice and equality for farm workers and other marginalized Americans. Learn how José Montoya’s poetry and work on social injustice galvanized the Chicano movement in the 1960s and ’70s.
LOUIS REYES RIVERA
Louis Reyes Rivera was an award-winning poet, academic and professor with a specialty in African American, Puerto Rican, and Caribbean literature and history. While Rivera played a role in the publication of more than 200 books, he may be best known for his advocacy efforts that helped people of color achieve higher education. Rivera was instrumental in the City College of New York student movement of 1969, which eventually led to open admissions policies and the establishment of Ethnic Studies Department. Learn how Louis Reyes Rivera’s commitment to social justice shaped his life and the lives of many others.
Sylvia Rivera was a Latinx American LGBTQ rights activist. One of America’s first transgender advocates, Rivera wanted to give transgender and gender nonconforming individuals a voice within the mainstream gay rights movement. Rivera and African American transgender activist Marsha P. Johnson established Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) and a shelter called STAR House to help homeless drag queens and transgender youth of color. Learn how Sylvia Rivera used her platform as a community organizer to advocate for the civil rights, equality and inclusion of those who were marginalized by society.
Ruben Salazar was a dedicated and outspoken Mexican American journalist for the Los Angeles Times. His work often amplified issues the Mexican American community faced. An active participant in the civil rights battles, Salazar forged relationships with members of the Chicano movement and through his articles gave a voice to the inequalities his community endured. Learn how Ruben Salazar became a legend at the newspaper through his trailblazing reporting.
Tags: Albert Baez / Albert Vinicio Baez / equal rights / Jamie Escalante / José Montoya / Jovita Idár / Julia de Burgos / Louis Reyes Rivera / Luisa Capetillo / National Hispanic Heritage Month / Roberto Clemente / Ruben Salazar / social change / Sylvia Rivera / women's equality