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Zoe Saldana, Hispanic Heritage Month, Cardi B, event, music, history, afro-latino community

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National Hispanic Heritage Month is an annual celebration in the United States that recognizes and pays tribute to the contributions, culture, history, and achievements of Hispanic Latino and Afro-Latino Americans. This observance spans from Sept.15th to Oct.15th each year, paying homage and respect to the independence and liberation of several Latin American countries.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the countries include Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. These nations all gained their independence from Spain on September 15, 1821. Mexico’s independence is celebrated on Sept.16th, as it declared independence from Spanish colonial rule on this day in 1810, kicking off the Mexican War of Independence. During the month-long celebration, Chile and Belize’s Independence Day, which falls on Sept. 18th and 21st respectively, is also celebrated. 

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How do you celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month?

During National Hispanic Heritage Month, there are various events, activities and educational programs held across the United States to celebrate the rich and diverse contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans. This festive event often includes art exhibitions, music, dance performances, food festivals and community gatherings.

The observance serves as an opportunity to highlight the achievements of Hispanic and Latino individuals in various fields, including arts, science, politics and sports. It also emphasizes the importance of diversity and multiculturalism in American society, as well as fostering understanding and appreciation for the cultural tapestry woven by Hispanic and Latino communities.

While the celebration is meant to be a joyous occasion, Mario T. Garcia, professor of Chicana and Chicano Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, believes that the month should also be used to highlight historical and societal issues present in the Latino community.

“Too often the focus is on the musical contributions or dancing or other happy art forms,” Garcia told NPR in 2021. “But we also need programming that reflects historical problems … because you can’t assume that Latinos already know about the lynchings in South Texas in the 1910s,” the Zoot Suit Riots, the segregation of Mexican kids in schools, or the Chicano-led high school walkouts of the 1960s that permanently changed higher education enrollment for Latino students.”

These hard truths can be the perfect way to create more change and equity for Latino community members across the globe, Garcia argued.

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, let’s pay homage to some notable Afro-Latino members, past and present, who have created change and spread joy around the world with their unique talents.

National Hispanic Heritage Month: Notable Black People Who Are Afro-Latinos  was originally published on

1. Rosario Dawson

Rosario Dawson Source:Getty

Rosario Dawson is a multi-talented actress, producer, and activist. Her Puerto Rican and Cuban heritage adds depth to her performances, and she has been involved in various social and political causes. Dawson’s advocacy for women’s rights, racial justice and environmental issues demonstrates her commitment to positive change.

Her illustrious film resume includes Light It Up, Edward Burns’ Sidewalks of New York, Spike Lee’s 25th Hour and Shattered Glass.

2. Zoe Saldana

Zoe Saldana Source:Getty

Zoe Saldana is a versatile actress known for her roles in blockbuster franchises like Avatar and Guardians of the Galaxy. Her ability to portray diverse characters with authenticity and grit has earned her acclaim in Hollywood. Saldana proudly represents her Dominican and Puerto Rican heritage, using her platform to advocate for diversity and inclusion in the film industry.

3. Amara La Negra

Amara La Negra Source:Getty

Amara La Negra is a Dominican-American singer, actress, and reality TV star known for her dynamic personality and powerful voice. She has been a vocal advocate for Afro-Latino representation and has used her music to celebrate her heritage and challenge stereotypes. Amara La Negra is a cast member of Love & Hip-Hop.

4. Arturo Alfonso Schomburg

Arturo Alfonso Schomburg Source:Getty

In the late 1900s, Arturo Alfonso Schomburg, a Puerto Rican and Afro-Carribean historian, writer and activist in the United States, researched and raised awareness about the contributions that Afro-Latino Americans and Black Americans made to society.

Schomburg dedicated his life to collecting archives that showcased Black excellence and intellect. According to the Smithsonian, “he amassed an archive of 10,000 items including original newspapers published by Frederick Douglass, poems by Phillis Wheatley, correspondence belonging to Toussaint Louverture, books and journals of Paul Cuffe.”

By the early 1920s, Schomburg became a member of the Negro Society for Historical Research and the American Negro Academy, where he made his massive archive available to educators and young people interested in learning more about Black and Afro-Latino history.

5. Silvio Torres-Saillant

Silvio Torres-Saillant Source:Getty

Silvio Torres-Saillant is a scholar and intellectual known for his work on race, ethnicity and culture. He has contributed significantly to discussions on identity and diversity, particularly within the Caribbean diaspora.

Silvio Torres-Saillant is a professor in the English Department at Syracuse University. He’s also the Dean of Humanities.

In 2006, he released his book, An Intellectual History of the Caribbean, which “examines both the work of natives of the region as well as texts interpretive of the region produced by Western authors,” a synopsis for the book reads.

6. Celia Cruz

Celia Cruz Source:Getty

Celia Cruz was a Cuban-American salsa singer and one of the most popular Latin artists of the 20th century. She was known for her powerful and distinctive voice and energetic stage presence. The iconic singer was eventually dubbed the “Queen of Salsa” for her outstanding contributions to the genre.

Born in Havana, Cuba in 1925, Cruz launched her career as a singer in the 1940s, performing with several popular Cuban bands. In the 1950s, she emigrated to the United States, where she continued to perform and record music, eventually becoming one of the most successful Latin artists of all time. Cruz’s hefty musical catalog includes hits like “Quimbara,” “Bemba Colora” and “Cucula.”

7. Cardi B

Cardi B Source:Wireimage

Cardi B, whose real name is Belcalis Marlenis Almánzar, is a well-known American rapper, songwriter, and actress. The celebrity rose to prominence with her debut single “Bodak Yellow” in 2017. The hit song appeared on the femcee’s Grammy Award-winning album, Invasion of Privacy.

Cardi B’s music is often characterized by her distinctive voice, bold lyrics and unapologetic personality. She has released successful albums and numerous hit songs, making her one of the most influential and recognized figures in the hip-hop and rap music industry. Some of her popular songs include “I Like It,” “Money,” “Be Careful,” and “WAP.”

In addition to her music career, Cardi B has ventured into acting, with appearances in films like Hustlers and television series such as Love & Hip Hop: New York. She is also known for her outspokenness on social and political issues, using her platform to advocate for causes she believes in.