Office of Latino Affairs Newsletter - AMP | Achieving Maximum Potential

Office of Latino Affairs Newsletter

iowa department of human rights


Office of Latino Affairs Newsletter



Celebrating Latino & Hispanic

Heritage Month

About Latino & Hispanic Heritage Month

Iowa and the nation set aside time between September 15 and October 15 to recognize and celebrate the rich heritage, culture and the contributions made by Latinos and Hispanics during Latino & Hispanic Heritage Month.

This celebration started in September, 1968 when President Lyndon B. Johnson was authorized by Congress to proclaim national Hispanic Heritage Week, and directed that this week included September 15 and 16 to celebrate the anniversaries of independence for the Latin American countries of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Mexico. In 1988, the National Hispanic Heritage Month was established.

Latinos are classified as individuals living in the U.S. whose ancestors originate from the Caribbean Islands, Central America, Mexico, and South America, all countries that were colonized by Spaniards and Portuguese. Latinos speak Romance languages: French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese. Latinos are the largest ethnic minority population in Iowa and in the U.S.

Latinx is a gender-neutral term that is used as an alternative to Latino/Latina/Latin@.

The term Hispanic refers to people whose heritage is derived from Spanish speaking countries - the term is about language and doesn't include people from Brazil who speak Portuguese, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Martinique, Saint Barthlemy and Saint Martin who speak French.

You can celebrate Latino and Hispanic Heritage Month by learning more about Latino and Hispanic history in Iowa. A great places to start is the University of Iowa Women's Archives Mujeres Latinas Project at You can also experience contemporary Latino and Hispanic culture by attending the different parades, street parties, and festivals across Iowa.

Iowa Latino Hall of Fame

Many outstanding Latinos/as helped shape Iowa and continue to contribute their talents and skills to improve the quality of life in this state. To recognize and honor these achievers and to provide visible examples for tomorrow's Latino leaders, the Iowa Commission of Latino Affairs established the Iowa Latino Hall of Fame in 2017 with the goal of ensuring that the efforts of Latino leaders are honorably recognized and celebrated.

Among the many strong Latino leaders are political and social activists, scientists, educators, writers and spiritual and community leaders. They represent the Latinos who have helped shape Iowa, the United States, and the world. Their induction into the Iowa Latino Hall of Fame will enhance the visibility of their contributions to their work, communities, and the status of Latinos in Iowa.

Meet the five remarkable Iowans that will be inducted into the 2019 Iowa Latino Hall of Fame:

The Latinx Youth Leadership Award recipient: Lilin Snchez Des Moines, IA (from Mexico).

First generation college student; first Latina Vice President of the University of Iowa Student Government; advocate of diversity issues; fellow at Amnesty International.



The Robert D. Ray Award for Equity and Justice recipient: Jan Mitchell Des Moines, IA.

Teacher who paved a path for lifelong success in her students; founder of Al Exito, a program whose mission is empower Latinos for success through education, leadership, and community engagement.



Carlos Portes (posthumous) Marshalltown, IA (from Havana, Cuba).

Recipient of Ellis Island Medal of Honor Award for his contributions in this country; served as Special Ambassador for Latin American Affairs; numerous other achievements.


Hector Avalos, PhD Ames, IA (from Nogales, Sonora, Mexico).

Founder and inaugural director of the first US Latino/a Studies program at Iowa State University; internationally recognized and respected scholar in the area of biblical studies.

Lando Valadez


Lando X. Valadez (posthumous)  Des Moines, IA (Mexican heritage).

Latino migrant worker who became a community leader, political activist, advocate for Latinos, court interpreter, historian, mentor; founder of a number of Latino and Hispanic based organizations; World War II hero; recipient of the Purple Heart and Silver Star Medal.

Event Information

The Iowa Latino Hall of Fame is held around National Latino and Hispanic Heritage Month, from September 15 to October 15, which celebrates and honors the contributions made by Latinos and Hispanics in the United States.

What: Iowa Latino Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

When: Saturday, October 19, 2019 at 6:00 pm

Where: Des Moines Art Center, 4700 Grand Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50312

The venue for the 2019 Iowa Latino Hall of Fame is a change in location from previous years.

A reception will immediately follow the ceremony, sponsored by the Friends of the Iowa Commission and Office of Latino Affairs.

This event is FREE and open to the public. If you need special accommodations please contact us.

Spotlight on Iowa's Latino & Hispanic Entrepreneurs

Latino Heritage Month

Upcoming Office & Commission Events

Iowa Latino Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony October 19, 2019 Des Moines Art Center

Commission's Annual Latino Day on the Hill March 9, 2020 State of Iowa Capitol



Iowa Department of Human Rights

Questions? Contact us


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