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Influential Latinas in Politics

 It pains me to share that people of color are forgotten in the pages of history. Unfortunately, women of color are most likely underrepresented, underappreciated, and overworked. Society needs to be better at honoring the work of all citizens, especially women from minority ethnic backgrounds. Below are three Latinas in politics who deserve to be in every textbook because of their significant impact on the world.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

She went from being an unknown bartender to being the youngest congressman in the US seemingly overnight. The “democratic socialist” was born in the Bronx, one of the poorest boroughs in New York, in 1989 to Puerto Rican parents. The Nuyorican did not let her underprivilege determine her density.

Instead, from an early age, she was passionate about controlling the outcome of her life. While she was in high school, she was a part of the National Hispanic Institutes’ Lorenzo de Zavala (LDZ) Youth Legislative Session. Moreover, she participated in the 2007 Intel Science and Engineering Fair and won second place. After high school, she attended Boston University and double majored in international relations and economics.

AOC in Politics

Due to her family’s economic situation, she took waitressing and bartending jobs in her early twenties to help support her family; her father’s cancer journey and subsequent death put the family in debt. Therefore, Cortez worked hard to help pay off her family debt while paying off her student loans. Her lower-class socioeconomic background and her young age are two factors that significantly helped her become a popular choice among lower and middle-class Americans, as well as Generation Z.

Her first involvement in politics was during the 2016 presidential election because she was a volunteer organizer for Bernie Sanders, an American senator from Vermont. She became a household name two years later, on June 26, 2018, when she defeated 10-term incumbent Joe Crowley during the 2018 midterm elections. Four months later, the newcomer became the youngest-ever congresswoman.

According to AOC’s website, her first action as Democratic representative for New York’s 14th district in the Bronx was the Green Deal resolution, “which envisions a 10-year national mobilization, akin to FDR’s New Deal, that would put millions to work in good-paying, union jobs repairing the nation’s infrastructure, reducing air and water pollution, and fighting the intertwined economic, social, racial and climate crises crippling the country.” While her first legislation is impressive, the young up-and-comer didn’t stop there.

Instead, she introduced 22 more pieces of legislation, including the Loan Shark Prevention Act, which would cap credit card interest rates at 15%. In 2019, Donald Trump, a Republican, was the President, but AOC did not let Republican control of the Senate and Presidency stop her from accomplishing her goals. On the contrary, she became a nightmare for the republican party as she became an effective questionnaire in committee hearings, a consistent town hall host, and saw three amendments pass into law.

Sonia Sotomayor 

She was the first Hispanic, the first Latina, and the third woman to serve on the High Court. Just like AOC, she was also born in the Bronx neighborhood of New York to Puerto Rican parents. Another similarity to AOC is that Sonia’s father passed away while she was young, so she had to work to support her family. She knew at age ten that she wanted to be an attorney, so she studied diligently.

Her academic efforts paid off as, in 1972, Sotomayor graduated as the valedictorian of Cardinal Spellman High School. After high school, she attended the prestigious Princeton University. At the Ivy League school, Miss Sotomayor was a part of Acción Puertorriqueña, a Puerto Rican activist group. After graduating from Princeton University with a bachelor’s in history, she attended Yale Law School. Her first job in politics was as an assistant district attorney to famous Manhattan attorney Robert Morgenthau.

SS in Politics 

During her time working under Mr. Morgentau, a particular case was the Tarzan murder case. Five years after working with Morgenthau, she joined a private practice known as the New York law firm of Pavia and Harcourt. Rather than handling matters related to shoplifting, robberies, assaults, murders, and police brutality, she mainly dealt with businesses, corporations, and property rights under the private firm.

Three years later, she was appointed to serve as a district court judge. During her time in district court, she remained veiled from media attention as she mainly dealt with non-controversial cases. Six years later, she was appointed Court of Appeals Judge. According to Oyez, Sotomayor heard “more than 3,000 cases and [wrote] around 380 majority opinions.”

Upon the retirement of Supreme Court Justice David Souter, the Barack administration quickly got Sotomayor his seat. On May 26, 2009, Hispanics across America and many working-class people from the Bronx rejoiced as their favored representative rose to the position.

Aida Álvarez

She is the first Hispanic and Latino American woman to serve in the United States Presidential cabinet. Similarly to the first two Latinas, Alvarez also hails from Puerto Rico and grew up in New York. In high school, she was a part of the ASPIRA program, a non-profit founded by Dr. Antonio Pantoja to “empower the Latino community through advocacy and the education and leadership development of its youth” (ASPIRA).

Upon graduating High School, Alvarez attended Harvard University, earning a Bachelor of Arts. Her first job was being a journalist for the New York Post. She later became a successful news anchor for Channel Five. She received an Emmy Award, Front Page Award, and an Associate Press Award. Aidachanged her career path from news reporter to investment banker and succeeded in it. After a decade, in 1997, Alarez made history by becoming the first Hispanic and Latina to serve on the cabinet.

AA in Politics

Her role as an executive officer was to handle small business administration. According to Stanford University, “She presided over record activity: $61.5 billion in guaranteed loans and venture capital financing over four years.” She created social change by “trip[ling] lending to women and doub[ling] lending to minority-owned small businesses” (California Competes). Currently, Alvarez serves on the board of many major businesses, such as HP Inc., Zoosk, and Oportun Financial Corporation. Moreover, she is on the board of the Latino Community Foundation and the San Francisco Symphony.



Click here to read about how women’s voting rights are so important in politics.

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1 Comment

  • Saniya

    It’s so inpsiring to hear their backgrounds and how they made their way up to holding these powerful positions. I’m so excited to keep watching them make changes in our political system!

    September 24, 2023 at 1:17 pm
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