Happy Birthday to Sandra Cisneros, Writer

Happy Birthday to acclaimed writer Sandra Cisneros, born on December 20, 1954 in Chicago, Illinois.  Her mother was Mexican American and her father was an immigrant from Mexico who was often nostalgic for his home country.  As a result, Cisneros and her family moved between Mexico and Chicago on numerous occasions.  The sense of displacement and psychological and spiritual boundaries and crossings between cultures greatly impacted Cisneros’ work.  Cisneros earned her BA at Loyola University and her MFA at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop.  Cisneros’ life is immersed in literature; she is a writer, poet, and teacher. Her novels include, “The House on Mango Street” and “The Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories.”

Norma Cantú, Lawyer, Educator, Social Activist

Happy Birthday to educator, lawyer, social activist and politico Norma Cantú, born on November 2, 1954 in Brownsville, Texas.  Cantú earned a double major BA from the University of Texas and then a law degree from Harvard by age 22.  She worked as an attorney with MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund).  In 1993 President Bill Clinton appointed her as assistant secretary for civil rights at the Department of Education.  Since 2001, Cantú has taught law and education at the University of Texas. Cantú is dedicated to social justice and education; as she once stated, “I believe a future with equal opportunity is inevitable, and my job is to make the inevitable happen faster.”

Happy Birthday to Cesar Rosas, Musician and Rock Star

Happy Birthday to Cesar Rosas, guitarist, singer, and member of the iconic Mexican American rock band, Los Lobos (The Wolves).  Rosas and his fellow band members met in high school, and their band has entertained and inspired audiences for over 30 years.  Their music is a unique blend of Mexican folk and American rock, blues, and jazz.  While best known for their 1987 hit single, “La Bamba”, their mission was to revive Mexican folk music for the next generation.  Their remarkable albums include By the Light of the Moon (1987), The Pistol and the Heart (1988), and Kiko (1992).  (Image by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images Entertainment)

Creation of the Piña Colada

With a shake and splash of rum, the famed national drink of Puerto Rico, the piña colada, was officially created on August 16, 1954. The momentous event occurred at the Caribe Hilton’s Beachcomber Bar in San Juan, Puerto Rico by cocktail artist and bartender Ramón “Monchito” Marrero. Monchito had been tasked with creating a new signature drink for the hotel.  After three months of arduous work, blending, experimenting, and presumably, tasting numerous trials, the official drink was completed. The piña colada, which literally translates as “strained pineapple”, is made from pineapple, creamed coconut, and rum.  You do not have to be Latinx to enjoy it.

Happy Birthday to Lincoln Díaz-Balart

Happy Birthday to politician Lincoln Díaz-Balart, born in Havana, Cuba on August 13, 1954. When he was four years old, his family fled from Cuba in 1959. Unlike today, Balart and his family were welcomed in El Norte; no paperwork for DACA, DAPA, or DREAMers was required. Balart was educated in Europe and the US, earning his law degree at Ohio’s Case Western Reserve University. In 1979, he began practicing law in Miami, and worked for the Legal Services of Greater Miami, which provided free legal services to the poor. In 1986, he was elected to the Florida House of Representatives, and later to the Florida State Senate, where he served until he earned a seat in the US Congress in 1992. Balart is a Republican who strongly supported the embargo against the Cuban government.

Sonia Sotomayor, Latina Supreme Court Justice

Happy Birthday to Sonia Sotomayor, born on June 25, 1954.  Sotomayor was appointed by President Barack Obama as the first Latina Supreme Court Justice.   Her Puerto Rican parents lived in the Bronx; her father died when she was 9 years old.   Her mother was determined to give her and her brother an education.  Sotomayor believes that her family was the only one in the neighborhood to own an Encyclopaedia Britannica set.  Sotomayor graduated from Princeton summa cum laude and earned her law degree from Yale.  In 1991, President George H. W. Bush appointed Sotomayor to the US District Court (New York).  She was sworn in as Justice to the US Supreme Court in August 2009.

Feliz cumpleaños a Sonia Sotomayor, nacida el 25 de junio de 1954. Sotomayor fue nombrado por el presidente Barack Obama como la primera latina en la Corte Suprema de Justicia. Sus padres puertorriqueños vivía en el Bronx, su padre murió cuando ella tenía 9 años de edad. Su madre estaba decidida a darle a ella ya su hermano a la educación. Sotomayor cree que su familia era la única en el barrio de poseer un conjunto Encyclopaedia Britannica. Sotomayor se graduó de Princeton summa cum laude y obtuvo su título de abogado en Yale. En 1991, el presidente George HW Bush nombró a Sotomayor a la Corte de Distrito de EE.UU. (Nueva York). Ella juró su cargo como Juez de la Corte Suprema de los EE.UU. en agosto de 2009.

“Operations Wetback” (Yes, really)

“Operations Wetback” began on June 17, 1954.  Over a 1,000 Border Patrol agents and 750 agricultural agents rounded up tens of thousands of Mexican laborers across the southwest, and deported them by bus, train and boat.   Hundreds of thousands more left voluntarily.   Allegations and reports of abuse, harassment and beatings were widespread.

“Espalda Mojada operaciones” comenzó el 17 de junio de 1954. Más de 1.000 agentes de la Patrulla Fronteriza y 750 agentes agrícolas redondeado a decenas de miles de trabajadores mexicanos en el suroeste, y los deportaron en autobús, tren y barco. Cientos de miles más fueron voluntariamente. Las denuncias y los informes de abuso, acoso y las palizas eran generalizadas.

Carolyn Curiel, Presidential Speechwriter

Happy Birthday to Carolyn Curiel, born on June 9, 1954 in Hammond, Indiana, to Mexican immigrant parents.  Her father was a steelworker and her mother was a housewife.  Curiel graduated from Purdue University, and worked as a sports reporter.  She expanded her career into political journalism with notable publication such as United Press International, the New York Times, and the Washington Post.  She was recruited by President Bill Clinton’s White House as a speechwriter, and became the first Hispanic woman and person of color to serve as a speechwriter to a US President.  Clinton later appointed her to serve as US Ambassador to Belize.

Feliz cumpleaños a Carolyn Curiel, nacido el 9 de junio de 1954 en Hammond, Indiana, a padres inmigrantes mexicanos. Su padre era un obrero metalúrgico y su madre era ama de casa. Curiel se graduó de la Universidad de Purdue, y trabajó como periodista deportivo. Amplió su carrera en el periodismo político con la publicación notable como United Press International, el New York Times y el Washington Post. Fue contratada por la Casa Blanca del presidente Bill Clinton como redactor de discursos, y se convirtió en la primera mujer hispana y la persona de color a servir como redactor de discursos para un Presidente de los EE.UU.. Clinton la nombró después de servir como embajador de EE.UU. en Belize.

“Salt of the Earth” Movie released 1954

March 14, 1954, was the release date of the classic movie, “Salt of the Earth”.  The movie was based on the long, difficult strike in 1951 against the Empire Zinc Company in New Mexico.  The actual miners and their families starred in the film.  The producers, director, and the movie were blacklisted during the 1950’s McCarthy anti-communist campaign.  The movie begins with the words of the Latina heroine: “How shall I begin my story that has no beginning? My name is Esperanza, Esperanza Quintero. I am a miner’s wife. This is our home. The house is not ours. But the flowers… the flowers are ours. This is my village. When I was a child, it was called San Marcos. The Anglos changed the name to Zinc Town. Zinc Town, New Mexico, U.S.A. Our roots go deep in this place, deeper than the pines, deeper than the mine shaft…”  (Photo from movie; for more recent photos of Latinx children in cages, please check with President Trump.)

Hernandez v. Texas: Impartial Juries

On January 11, 1954, arguments were heard at the US Supreme Court for the landmark case, Hernandez v. Texas.   The case centered on Pedro Hernandez, a Mexican agricultural worker, who was convicted of murder.  Hernandez’s legal team argued that the jury could not be impartial unless members of non-Caucasian races were allowed to participate.  The trial had been held in Jackson County, Texas, where no Mexican Americans had been included in a jury for over 25 years.  The decision held that Mexican Americans and all other racial groups in the US had equal protection under the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution.