Latinx on NASA Space Shuttle Atlantis 1985

As the NASA Space Shuttle Atlantis launched into the night sky from the Kennedy Space Center on November 26, 1985, Latinx Rodolfo Neri Vela was among the crew.  Neri is a Mexican scientist and astronaut who served as Payload Specialist for the mission.  (A Payload Specialist is the technical expert on the carrying capacity of an aircraft or space ship, including cargo and scientific instruments or experiments.) Neri earned a BA in mechanical and electrical engineering from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), an MA in telecommunications systems from the University of Essex (England) and a Ph D in electromagnetic radiation from the University of Birmingham (England).  Neri and the crew returned safely on December 3.

Xavier Louis Suarez, Mayor of Miami 1985

After persevering through a number of campaigns, Xavier Louis Suarez was finally elected as Mayor of the city of Miami.  He was sworn in on November 13, 1985, and was the first Cuban born citizen to win this office.  Suarez was born in Las Villas, Cuba, and immigrated to the US in 1962.  He graduated from Villanova University and from Harvard University Law School.  Suarez won with 57% of the vote.  The New York Times reported that in his first words, the Mayor chose to emphasize his roots and an identification with the humble. “A great, great man once said: ‘Con los pobres de la tierra quiero yo mi suerte echar – With the poor people of this earth I want to share my fate.'” The quote is from the Cuban patriot and poet Jose Marti.

The First Bilingual Radio Station in Denver

The mile high airwaves of Colorado were rocked with a new sound, as the first bilingual radio station in Denver made its debut on August 29, 1985.  The station was the fulfilled dream of Florence Hernández-Ramos, the first Latinx female president and general manager of a public radio station. The station has a jazz format; as Hernández-Ramos noted in an interview, “People have a stereotype about Hispanic controlled station. They are shocked to discover we have a jazz format.”  The station now broadcasts the very best in jazz, Latin jazz and blues – in addition to fifteen locally-produced, host-inspired, culturally diverse programs. Music shows are integrated with NPR news, our LOCAL morning program First Take with Lando and Chavis, and special features.

Mary Joe Fernandez wins a main draw match

Audiences cheered as 14 year old Mary Joe Fernandez won a main draw match at the women’s US Open in the first round.  Fernandez was born in the Dominican Republic, and immigrated to the US as a child with her family.  Fernandez continued this dazzling start to her career, placing as runner-up in three Grand Slam singles tournaments and winning two Grand Slam women’s doubles titles and two Olympic gold medals. She now contributes to her cherished sport as coach and commentator.

Crowning of Miss Universe 1985

On July 15, 1985, to cheers, tears and applause, Puerto Rican actress and TV host Deborah Fátima Carthy-Deu was crowned as the 34th Miss Universe.  Carthy-Deu was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico, and is the second Puerto Rican woman to achieve this title.  She graduated with high honors from the University of Puerto Rico with a degree in Theater Arts and Education.  In addition to her career in theater and television, the entrepreneurial Carthy-Deu owns a modeling and talent school.

The First Night of the Live-Aid Concert

To cheers and applause across the globe, the Live-Aid Concert began on July 13, 1985.  The dual-venue concert was held in London, England and in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to raise money for the human beings impacted by a terrible famine in Ethiopia.  The event was one of the largest-scale satellite link-ups and television broadcasts to date: an estimated 1.9 billion human beings in 150 nations watched the live broadcast.  (Imagine all that organization and sharing in the pre-Facebook era!) Among the contributing performers were Latino Rock icons Joan Baez and Carlos Santana.

Nancy Lopez wins The 31st LPGA Championship

On June 2, 1985, Nancy Lopez won the 31st LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association) Championship.  Among her stellar accomplishments, Lopez is able to balance work and home life.  In an interview with the New York Times, she stated, “I like being a wife and mother more than I like professional golf.”  Lopez and her husband, former Major League Baseball player Ray Knight, share responsibility for their household.  Knight added in the same interview, “We complement each other.  We help each other with the chores.” Knight occasionally caddies for his wife.

El 2 de junio de 1985, Nancy López ganó el LPGA 31 (Ladies Professional Golf Association) Campeonato. Entre sus logros estelares, López es capaz de equilibrar el trabajo y la vida familiar. En una entrevista con el New York Times, señaló: “Me gusta ser una esposa y madre más que a mí me gusta el golf profesional”. López y su esposo, el ex jugador de Grandes Ligas, Ray Knight, comparten la responsabilidad de su hogar. Knight agregó en la misma entrevista: “Nos complementamos el uno al otro. Nos ayudamos mutuamente con las tareas.” Knight de vez en cuando caddies para su esposa.

First Latinx Miss USA (1985)

On May 13, 1985, beautiful, talented Laura Elena Martinez-Herring was crowned as Miss USA, the first Latina to win the honor.  Martinez was born in Los Mochis, a city in western Mexico.  Her family later settled in Texas, the state that she represented in the Miss USA competition.  Martinez studied at Aiglon College, a Swiss boarding school.  The adventurous Martinez worked in India and traveled through Asia after graduation.  Martinez began working in the film and television industry, where her career suffered from the dearth of quality roles for Hispanic actresses.  Under the name Laura Harring, she starred in the “General Hospital” TV series and films such as “Rio Diablo” and “The Alamo, Thirteen Days to Glory”.

“Fernandomania” (1985)

With the whisper whip of a speeding baseball cutting through the air on April 28, 1985, Mexican American Fernando Valenzeula pitched the conclusion of five shutouts during an eight-game winning streak to start the season. “Fernandomania” became a national epidemic.   The 20-year old Valenzeula is left-handed, with an incredible screwball pitch that confounded the pros of his time.  After a Major League career from 1980 to 1996, Valenzuela retired as the leading Mexican-born pitcher in Major League history.  In 2003, he returned to assist his former team, the Dodgers, as a Spanish-language color commentator.