To close out Hispanic Heritage Month, we’re back with our next history lesson from the second half of the PBS Latino Americans documentary series. After remembering all of the milestones, motivational mujeres, music, and of course, mixology lessons, our favorite month has now come to an end. This time, let’s forget about my college professor’s terrible Spanish accent and focus on some notable Latina achievements over the past 60 years.
Latinas were defying #OscarsSoWhite since 1961. Last lesson, we learned that Latinos were not often featured on the big screen—Latino characters were often played by white American Hollywood stars. West Side Story, filmed in 1961, was no exception—there were many Latino characters in the movie, but the only Latina actress cast was Rita Moreno. The film depicted the harsh stereotypes and discrimination faced by Latinos in New York, and as a Nuyorican herself, this was all too real for Moreno. But her performance earned her an Academy Award, making her the first Hispanic nominee and winner. More importantly it brought Latino discrimination to light. But 55 years later, there’s still a long way to go.