From September 15 to October 15 each year, the United States celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month, a dedicated time to honor the cultures and contributions of Hispanic Americans. The festivities began in 1968 as a single commemorative week. In the half-century since, the country has experienced a long, slow revolution in the awareness of multicultural identities and the observance expanded to an entire month dedicated to learning more about the Hispanic American community.
This month, there’s a lot to recognize and celebrate, but there are also some hard statistics to discuss. Alarming recent studies show that Hispanic Americans have continued to be disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, a recent poll found that Hispanic respondents were twice as likely as Caucasians and almost four times as likely to Black Americans to report having contracted the virus, and forty-four percent said either they or someone in their household had lost their job or had hours reduced in the wake of the pandemic.
Changing America invites you to join us for a special virtual event on Thursday, September 30 to celebrate the accomplishments of Hispanic Americans. Our speakers will share their own experiences and role models and discuss urgent topics such as immigration reform, employment, and healthcare.
Thursday, September 30
1:00 PM ET/10:00 AM PT
Victoria Ballesteros, National Immigration Law Center
A daughter of immigrants in a mixed-status family, Victoria was born in Compton, CA. Many of her older siblings were born in Mexico and Ballestros spent much of her childhood helping her family navigate the immigrant experience in America, including translating for her parents. During the Reagan administration, Ballesteros’ parents and older siblings were naturalized yet Ballestreros still saw many of her family members, including her grandfather, uncle, and several cousins deported throughout her life.
Now, as Chief Communications Officer for the National Immigration Law Center, Victoria is working tirelessly to change the way American society views immigrants, undo the decades of harmful anti-immigration policies, and rebuild America once again as the beacon of freedom for people around the world.
Mónica Ramírez, Justice for Migrant Women
Mónica is an activist, attorney, and the founder of the nonprofit Justice For Migrant Women. For over two decades, she has fought for the civil and human rights of women, children, workers, Latinos/as and immigrants. As part of her work with Justice for Migrant Women, Mónica has worked alongside leaders in Washington to introduce numerous pieces of legislation (among them the BE HEARD Act and The CARE Act).
Having received numerous accolades for her smart, effective activism she was awarded the 2019 MAFO Lifetime Achievement Award and in 2020 was chosen as one of the few US citizens to receive the inaugural and prestigious Ford Global Fellowship to connect and support the next generation of social justice leaders who are advancing innovative solutions to end inequality. This supports her key focus for the year building power among rural communities and ensuring everyone’s voice is heard this pivotal election year.
Mario H. Lopez, Hispanic Leadership Fund
Lopez is the president of the Hispanic Leadership Fund, an advocacy organization that “promotes liberty, opportunity, and prosperity for all in public policy.” Lopez previously served on the Hispanic Advisory Board for the Republican National Committee and was a presidential appointee for George W. Bush. Lopez has developed and executed large-scale communications campaigns, including a 2020 bilingual digital audio campaign advocating for Temporary Protected Status for refugees and migrants