Many times, when the Latino community is mentioned in the national context, one thinks of a growing group, a young population, and its role in the future. While this is true, it is also true that this community has made important contributions to help build this country. This is especially relevant now that the city of Charlotte, North Carolina is seeking suggestions for naming a school after a Latino historical figure, a heroes.

With more than 62 million inhabitants, the Latino community in the United States represents 19% of the population. This makes it the second largest racial or ethnic group in the country, behind Anglo-Saxons and ahead of African-Americans, according to the Census Bureau. It is also one of the fastest growing groups. By the year 2050, it is estimated that this population will reach close to 100 million people.

Although this group has a clear role in the future, it has also left a lasting mark on the history of the United States. Many of these figures have been forgotten over the years. For this reason, we will introduce a short list of some pioneers of the Latino community who made history in the 19th century and about whom very little is known.

Felipe Bazaar

This Chilean immigrant became a renowned US Navy sailor. He was presented the highest military award, the Medal of Honor, for his bravery in combat and for having distinguished himself in the battle of Fort Fisher during the Civil War.

After Confederate (Southern) troops seized Fort Fisher, a vital military outpost on the shores of Wilmington, North Carolina, Union General Ulysses S. Grant ordered an attack. Bazaar was aboard the ship USS Santiago de Cuba on January 12, 1865 when Union land and naval forces launched an assault on the unit.

During the battle, Bazaar and five crew members carried dispatches while under heavy enemy fire. Bazaar and the other crew members received the Medal of Honor for their actions.

María Ruiz de Burton

She was the first Mexican-American female writer to write books in English: “Who Would Have Thought It?” in 1872, and “The Squatter and the Don” in 1885. She also wrote a play based on Don Quixote de la Mancha in 1876.

Ruiz de Burton’s work is considered a precursor of “Chicano literature,” which offers the perspective of individuals with Mexican heritage who live in the United States.

In her first book, the writer was able to capture the conflicts that Latinas endured in the midst of the prejudices of that era. For her second work to become more popular, she had to publish it under a pseudonym: C. Loyal. This was an abbreviation for “Ciudadano Leal,” a traditional way of closing official letters in Mexico in the 19th century. The novel was a success.

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Joseph Marion Hernández

He was the first Latino to hold a seat in Congress and the first delegate for the Florida Territory, a position he held from September 1822 to March 1823.

Marion Hernandez was responsible for building a route between St. Augustine and Fort Capron in Florida while serving in the Army in 1837. This route extends to Fort Brooke in Tampa.

Here we have presented just a tiny sample of Latinos who forged our past in one way or another. We hope that by dusting off these names from history, new generations can be inspired to continue positively transforming our future.

Diego Barahona A.

Diego Barahona A.

Periodista, editor, asesor, y presentador. De 2016 a 2019 el periodista más galardonado en Estados Unidos por los Premios José Martí. Autor del best seller: ¿Cómo leer a las personas?