Every year across the US, we celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15. This celebration started in 1968 with Hispanic Heritage Week and was expanded to a month in 1988.
During this month, we take the opportunity to share the rich history and the past and present accomplishments of Hispanic and Latino Americans. We look forward to celebrating this diverse culture and community while recognizing the need for racial equity while amplifying Hispanic voices.
Over the next 30 days, we will be highlighting some of the many Hispanic leaders in our community. We know we could never highlight all of them, so feel free to follow along with us on social media and shout out some of your Hispanic heroes using the hashtag #HispanicHeritageMonth2021.
Last year Harris County created an Office of the Election Administrator and appointed Isabel Longoria to lead it. Longoria has served her hometown Houston in various roles. She has worked for elected officials in different levels of government, served on Houston’s Planning Commission, the boards of the League of Women’s Voters and the Mayor’s LGBTQ Advisory and served as special advisor at the Clerk’s Office for voting rights and access. Longoria is now in charge of making sure our elections are safe, accessible, and fair. You can listen to our interview with her on the #OneForAll podcast.
If you have ever had the pleasure of eating at Houston’s Backstreet Café, Hugo’s, Caracoal or Xochi then you have experienced the hard work and critically acclaimed food of today’s honoree. Hugo Ortega is a chef and the co-owner of four prominent restaurants in Houston. Ortega was born in Mexico City and is passionate about sharing his traditional foods with our community.
In 2013, Houston named its first poet laureate Gwendolyn Zepeda. Zepeda is an author who has seen a wide range of success; from short stories & poems, to novels & a long standing blog. Zepeda is thought to be the first Latina blogger.
In Houston we are proud to have some of the world’s best athletes and teams. Óscar Boniek García is a senior midfielder who has played for our Houston Dynamo FC since 2013. Boniek García has competed in two World Cup’s for his home country Honduras and teamed up with a group of MLS players to help Hondurans recover after Hurricane Eta. A teammate on and off the field, and a leader for his team and our community. We are proud to have Óscar Boniek García in Houston.
Art plays an important role in not only Houston’s culture, but culture as a whole. Mario E. Figueroa, Jr. or GONZO247 as he is known in the art world, is a Houston artist who has been commissioned to paint walls all over our city including at the George R Brown Convention Center. GONZO247 uses graffiti and street art to inspire and communicate with our community.
Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services, or t.e.j.a.s, is an organization that was founded by Bryan Parras and his father in 2002 and is dedicated to equipping community members with the tools they need to make their communities sustainable and environmentally healthy. On top of continuing to be a board member of t.e.j.a.s., Bryan Parras is a Health Communities Gulf Coast Organizer for the Sierra Club and is constantly speaking up for the marginalized communities that suffer the most from the environmental issues he is working to remedy.
Judge Nata Cornelio serves Harris County in the 351st District Court and is one of only two Latinas on our criminal courts. She has previously worked as a federal public defender who brought quality representation to individuals who could not afford it. Judge Cornelio is a public servant who works diligently to provide justice for everyone and uses her knowledge and experience to move our justice system forward. Nata is only one of two Latina's on the Harris County Criminal bench.