Latino Trailblazers in U.S. Politics

Some of the most prominent politicians and activists who helped pave the way for Hispanics in America.

September 15 marked the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month, a nod to Hispanic influence and culture in the United States. As of 2013, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that Hispanics comprise about 17 percent of the population, but that number is estimated to reach just over 30 percent by 2060. Take a look at some of the activists and politicians who have influenced the American political scene.

Dolores Huerta

Civil rights and women's advocate Dolores Huerta is presented with a Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama during an event at the White House, May 29, 2012. Huerta, with fellow Chicano activist Cesar Chavez, helped start the United Farmworkers' Union.  (Alex Wong/Getty Images )

Cesar Chavez

Cesar Chavez, a Migrant Workers Union leader speaks at an event hosted by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1972. Chavez helped start the United Farmworkers Union and led protests to improve the working conditions of farm laborers.  (National Archives )

Joan Baez

Vocalist Joan Baez sings at a Civil Rights March on Washington in 1963. Baez was known as a folk singer whose songs often focused on social-rights issues.  (National Archives )

Ernesto Galarza

Ernesto Galarza was an active union leader in the National Farm Labor Union and the American Federation of Labor. Along with organizing protest movements, Galarza was an active writer. His work, "Merchant of Labor," exposed abuses within the U.S./Mexico bracero program.  (Wikipedia Commons )

Octaviano Larrazolo

Octaviano Larrazolo, elected in 1928 was the first Hispanic to serve in the U.S. Senate. Prior to his Senate election he served as the governor of New Mexico.  (National Archives )

Sonia Sotomayor

Sonia Sotomayor has served as an associate justice of the Supreme Court since 2009. She is the third female justice and the first of Hispanic heritage.  (White House Flickr )

Susana Martinez

In 2010 Susana Martinez was the first female elected to serve as governor of New Mexico. During 2012, it was rumored that she would be Mitt Romney's vice-presidential running mate. (Mark Wilson AFP/Getty)

Henry Cisneros

When Henry Cisneros was elected mayor of San Antonio in 1981, he was the first Hispanic mayor of a major U.S. city. He was later appointed to serve as the secretary of Housing and Urban Development during the Clinton administration. (CHRIS WILKINS/AFP/Getty Images)

Juan Felipe Herrera

While not a politician, Juan Felipe Herrera's title as U.S. poet laureate is a nationally appointed one. His works incorporate his experiences as the child of migrant farm workers. (Library of Congress )

Julián Castro

Julián Castro serves as the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, a position to which he was appointed after serving as the mayor of San Antonio. In 2010, he was named on the World Economic Forum's list of Young Global Leaders and Time magazine's "40 Under 40" rising stars in American politics.  (National Journal)