Famous Hispanic Activists

This is a list of famous Hispanic activists. These are some of the most well known Mexican Americans in the United States. Currently, over 10 percent of the population of the United States is Hispanic. Mexican American culture is robust and full of history, with a focus on family.

The people on this list vary in importance, from Mexican American heroes to sources of pride within America's Mexican community. There are Hispanic, Latino, and Mexican civil rights leaders and activists on this list. Rodolfo Gonzalez is one of the famous Chicano leaders you will find on this list. Other Hispanic human rights activists include Carlos Cadena, Gustavo C. Garcia, and Norma V. Cantu. 

Mexican immigrants are an important part of the fabric that is the great American melting pot. They include many important, distinguished, and notable people within the USA - many of whom you will find on this list. Learn more about beloved Mexican American activists below. 

  • Cesar Chavez
    • Birthplace: Yuma, Arizona
    Cesar Chavez (born César Estrada Chávez, locally [ˈsesaɾ esˈtɾaða ˈtʃaβes]; March 31, 1927 – April 23, 1993) was an American labor leader and Latino American civil rights activist. Along with Dolores Huerta, he co-founded the National Farm Workers Association, later renamed the United Farm Workers (UFW) union. Born in Yuma, Arizona to a Mexican American family, in early life Chavez worked as a manual laborer and spent two years in the United States Navy. Relocating to California, where he married, he got involved in the Community Service Organization (CSO), through which he helped laborers register to vote. In 1959, he became the CSO's national director, a position based in Los Angeles. In 1962 he left the CSO to co-found the UFW, based in Delano. Chavez became the best known Latino American civil rights activist, and was strongly promoted by the American labor movement, which was eager to enroll Hispanic members. His public-relations approach to unionism and aggressive but nonviolent tactics made the farm workers' struggle a moral cause with nationwide support. By the late 1970s, his tactics had forced growers to recognize the UFW as the bargaining agent for 50,000 field workers in California and Florida. In later life, he also became an advocate for veganism. During his lifetime, Colegio Cesar Chavez was one of the few institutions named in his honor, but after his death he became a major historical icon for the Latino community, with many schools, streets, and parks being named after him. He has since become an icon for organized labor and leftist politics, symbolizing support for workers and for Hispanic empowerment based on grass roots organizing. He is also famous for popularizing the slogan "Sí, se puede" (Spanish for "Yes, one can" or, roughly, "Yes, it can be done"), which was adopted as the 2008 campaign slogan of Barack Obama. Although the UFW faltered a few years after Chavez died in 1993, his work led to numerous improvements for union laborers. Chavez posthumously became an iconic "folk saint" in the pantheon of Mexican Americans. His birthday, March 31, is a federal commemorative holiday (Cesar Chavez Day) observed by several states in the US. He received many honors and accolades, while still living and after his death, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994.
  • Sal Castro
    Salvador B. Castro (October 25, 1933 – April 15, 2013) was a Mexican-American educator and activist. He was most well known for his role in the 1968 East Los Angeles high school walkouts, a series of protests against unequal conditions in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) schools. After he retired from teaching, he continued to lecture about his experiences and the importance of education, especially for Mexican Americans. Castro was born in Los Angeles and began kindergarten at Belvedere Elementary School in East Los Angeles, but moved to Mexico when his father was forcibly repatriated during the "Repatriation Movement". There he attended a private elementary school in Mazatlán, Sinaloa. Returning to East L.A. while still in grade school, he experienced discrimination for speaking Spanish in the classroom. After graduating from Cathedral High School, a Catholic school, he was drafted into the Army. He saw no combat action as hostilities with Korea ceased shortly after his entry, but was stationed at bases in Atlanta, Georgia and Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Always interested in higher education, he was particularly impressed by the campus of College of William and Mary while stationed in Virginia but he left the Army to marry his high school sweetheart, and attended Los Angeles City College (LACC) before transferring to L.A. State, now known as California State University Los Angeles (Cal State LA) where he obtained his B.A. in social science. He died in Los Angeles on April 15, 2013.
  • Dolores Huerta
    • Birthplace: New Mexico, USA
    Dolores Clara Fernández Huerta (born April 10, 1930) is an American labor leader and civil rights activist who, with Cesar Chavez, is a co-founder of the National Farmworkers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers (UFW). Huerta helped organize the Delano grape strike in 1965 in California and was the lead negotiator in the workers' contract that was created after the strike.Huerta has received numerous awards for her community service and advocacy for workers', immigrants', and women's rights, including the Eugene V. Debs Foundation Outstanding American Award, the United States Presidential Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She was the first Latina inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame, in 1993.Huerta is the originator of the phrase, "Sí, se puede". As a role model to many in the Latino community, Huerta is the subject of many corridos and murals.
  • Raul Yzaguirre

    Raul Yzaguirre

    • Birthplace: San Juan, Texas
    Raul Humberto Yzaguirre (born July 22, 1939) is an American civil rights activist. He is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He served as the president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza from 1974 to 2004 and as U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic from November 2010 to May 2013.
    • Birthplace: Denver, Colorado
    Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales (June 18, 1928 – April 12, 2005) was a Mexican American boxer, poet, and political activist. He convened the first-ever Chicano youth conference in March 1969, which was attended by many future Chicano activists and artists. The conference also promulgated the Plan Espiritual de Aztlán, a manifesto demanding self-determination for Chicanos. As an early figure of the movement for the equal rights of Mexican Am.
  • Maria Echaveste
    • Birthplace: Texas, USA
    Maria Echaveste (born May 31, 1954) is a former U.S. presidential advisor to Bill Clinton and White House Deputy Chief of Staff during the second Clinton administration. She is one of the highest-ranking Latinas to have served in a presidential administration. She is currently a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and a co-founder of the Nueva Vista Group, a policy, legislative strategy and advocacy group working with non-profit and corporate clients.