5 Latinas You Didn’t Learn About in History Class

Hispanic Heritage Month begins September 15 and continues until October 15. It’s a month where people recognize and honor the contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans along with their culture. But even so, there are quite a few Latinos and Hispanic Americans that are often left out of the conversation. Here’s a look at 5



Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

As a nun, Sor Juana was devoted to her studies. She’s remembered as a writer who defined both Golden Age literature in the Old World and colonial Mexican literature in the New World. Sor Juana was not your average monja. While she did focus on religion, she didn’t shy away from topics like love and feminism, which were especially controversial in the 17th century. Sor Juana didn’t buy into the strict customs of the Catholic patriarchy of the time, so she was condemned by the Bishop of Puebla. But even though she had been ousted by the church, she didn’t give up and still maintained a strong commitment to helping the poor in Mexico. She was also one of the earliest supporters of indigenismo as a student of Nahuatl.

Rigoberta Menchú


At a young age, Menchú became involved in the women’s rights movement. Later, this indiginious Guatemalan woman found herself advocating on behalf of her people, combatting abuses by the Guatemalan government. In 1983, she gained international attention with her book, I, Rigoberta Menchú, which highlighted her poor upbringing and the struggles of many during Guatemala’s 36-year civil war. She received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992 for her outstanding work toward social justice.

Minerva Mirabal

It’s no secret that Julia Alvarez is one of our faves at HipLatina — and among one of her most noteworthy works is In The Time of the Butterflies. Set in Trujillo era Dominican Republic, it recounts the story of the Mirabal sisters and their work as activists against the dictatorial regime. Perhaps the most politically active of the sisters was Minerva, especially after she was denied a law license because she refused Trujillo’s sexual advances. She didn’t hold back in speaking out against his regime and was relentless until she and her sisters were brutally assassinated. She’s known to have borrowed the words of Fidel Castro: “Condemn me, it does not matter history will absolve me.” And the UN did just that! They designated November 25, the date the Mirabal sisters were murdered, as the Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

Soledad Chacón

Chacón was the first Latina elected to a statewide office in the United States as Secretary of State for New Mexico in 1922. The vote reflected New Mexico’s largely Latino population and heritage—having belonged to Mexico until 1848 and only officially becoming a state in 1912. She was also the first woman to serve as a state’s acting governor.

Alicia Dickinson Montemayor

Montemayor was the first woman elected to a U.S. national office not specifically designated for women, as the Vice President of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) in 1936. The organization championed equal rights for Latinos in the United States long before the 1960s civil rights movement. Montemayor also brought equal rights for women into the spotlight as associate editor for the LULAC newspaper. While we consider all of the mujeres in this post to be Women’s History Month Honorees, she was one of the first women to be named an official honoree by the National Women’s History Project.

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