Let’s celebrate yet another year of amazing Latinx/e activists and changemakers in Maryland!
First, take a look at our list of Latinx/e revolutionaries, activists, and brilliant minds. These advocates have made a grand impact on their communities in Maryland and launched us into a more progressive and inclusive society.
Second, use our survey to share your suggestions for Latinx/e people with a Maryland connection who are no longer with us, but who made an important impact.
- Sara Medrano
Sara Medrano is a Latina who was born in El Salvador and is now a long-time community member from Frederick, Maryland. She bravely joined with the Resources for Immigrant Support and Empowerment (RISE) Coalition of Western Maryland, and together they held the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office accountable for racist and xenophobic policing towards the Latinx/e community. On July 7, 2018, Sara Medrano was racially profiled and stopped by a Frederick County Sheriff’s deputy for a “broken” taillight that turned out to be working just fine. The deputy asked about Medrano’s legal status before detaining and illegally holding her to try to get ICE to come pick her up. Ultimately, their lawsuit resulted in a comprehensive agreement. Sara Medrano was awarded damages along with a written apology from Sheriff Jenkins for the misconduct she endured. Sara Medrano made a huge difference in her Frederick community for Latinx/e residents by holding government agencies accountable for anti-immigrant policies and racism.
- Joe Perez
Joe Perez was born in Puerto Rico and raised in New York City. He is now a retired Captain from the Prince George’s Police Department and President of the Hispanic National Law Enforcement Association. Together with other Black and Brown Prince George’s County officers, Perez blew the whistle on racism that was rampant within the Department and spread into the community. Perez challenged racist police workplace practices and sought out to change this insidious culture, which included discrimination and retaliation against Black and Latinx/e officers who challenged police abuse. Their lawsuit concluded with significant policy changes aimed at ending biased policing, imposing significant discipline for racist acts committed by police against other officers or community members, and putting policies in place to stop discrimination and retaliation against Black and Latinx/e officers who challenge police abuse.
- Leila Borrero Krouse
Leila Borrero Krouse is Puerto Rican, originally from the city of Quenepa, Ponce, who is a resident of Maryland and has been in the U.S. for close to fifty years. Borrero Krouse has been working with migrant workers since 1986. Her work began in Cambridge, MD where she helped with the food stamp program. Later on, she worked at health clinics as a medical interpreter and farm worker health educator. Eventually, Borrero Krouse found herself working with CATA, a farmworkers support committee founded by migrant farmworkers in New Jersey in 1979 that focuses on workers’ rights, health and safety in the workplace, immigrant’s rights, and food justice. Borrero Krouse has made a difference on the Eastern Shore alongside CATA. Her work on immigration spans decades and will continue to impact generations.
- Nina Rosita Harper (1959 – 2018)
Nina Rosita Harper was born in 1959 in Baltimore, Maryland. Sadly, she passed away in 2018, but she leaves behind a long-lasting legacy. She launched her political career in the 1980s, and Harper served in the Maryland General Assembly and represented District 45 in Baltimore City. Harper was known for building organizations and movements up so that they would succeed. She grew up in East Baltimore and was raised by Geneve Mello Himan and Andres Himan, who was from the country of Colombia. Not only was she a politician, but she was also a writer whose work was published in the Catholic Review. She was awarded the Mother Mary Lange Award and the Unsung Black Catholic Woman Award. Her community activism, organizing, and persistence touched the lives of many and made significant contributions for Maryland.
- Estelle Anna Lewis (1824 – 1880)
Estelle Anna Lewis was a 19th century writer, poet, and dramatist. She was born in April 1824 near Baltimore, Maryland and died on November 24, 1880. Lewis was the daughter of John Robinson who was from Cuba and had English and Spanish descent. In school, she studied law, history, comparative literature, and classical and modern languages. At fourteen, she published her first poem. At twenty, she published her first book. Lewis continued writing many volumes of poetry and plays thereafter. In many of her works, she creates extremely complex and thought-provoking characters. Lewis’ writing greatly influenced American literature and culture.
- Maricé Ivette Morales
Maricé Ivette Morales is an attorney and former politician from Montgomery County. She was born on June 12, 1987, in Arlington, Virginia to parents who are both from Peru. She represented District 19 in the Maryland House of Delegates before becoming an attorney for immigration, criminal, personal injury, and traffic legal needs. While she was a politician, she was part of many committees that were focused on creating change in our communities. Not only did she join the Women Legislators of Maryland, but she also joined the Maryland Legislative Latino Caucus. Maricé Morales founded an attorney’s office where, with her extensive experience on immigration and Maryland courts, she guides and helps her community in legal matters. She continues to be a hero and role model in the Latinx/e community.
- Ana Sol Gutierrez
Ana Sol Gutierrez was born on January 11, 1942 in Santa Ana, El Salvador. She was the first Latina to be elected to the Maryland General Assembly. She represented District 18, Montgomery County. Ana Sol Gutierrez is strongly allied with CASA, an organization committed to the well-being of immigrants. While she was a politician, she pushed for a system of ID in Maryland that would allow undocumented immigrants to enter federal buildings, board planes, and engage in transactions, but which would not act as a “Scarlett letter” in a dangerous anti-immigrant climate. Gutierrez has made a grand impact on history and our Maryland community.
- Gigi Guzmán
Gigi Guzmán has contributed to Latinx/e people through dedicating her work to the community’s empowerment. Guzmán is a Latina who was one of the founders of the Maryland Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, in order to improve Maryland’s economy through supporting prosperous residents and businesses. Guzmán also supported Latinx/e Marylanders through founding GlobalTech Bilingual Institute, where she provided professional development trainings for the Latinx/e community in the Baltimore area. After the company was sold, Guzmán began providing interpretation services to agencies, schools, and legal firms. Her work has bettered the Latinx/e community’s well-being and their economic opportunities.
- Laura Gutierrez
Laura Gutierrez earned a “Community Hero” award from the Maryland Legislative Latino Caucus. She is the Hispanic Liason and Manager of the Office of Community Services of the City of Annapolis. Gutierrez has years of experience in community organizing under her belt. At the very start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Gutierrez was able to successfully flatten the curve of cases in Black and Brown communities through the program she launched called Take Care/Cuídate. This initiative was a health outreach education program that not only saved lives of Latinx/e Marylanders, but the lives of many other BIPOC residents as well. Laura Gutierrez is truly a real-life hero for her life saving measures and quick thinking.
- Oneyda Hernandez
Oneyda Hernandez was born in El Salvador and is a long-time resident of Prince George’s County, Maryland. She was a prominent student leader and is now a grassroots luminary in her community. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Black and Brown immigrant communities in Maryland were disproportionally impacted by both the virus and lockdown. Seeing her neighbors in these communities struggling, Oneyda gathered essentials to deliver to them. Oneyda founded and led the Audelia Community Response Team (ACRT). The ACRT became a mutual aid fund that raised tens of thousands of dollars in donations and gathered many more donated essential goods to deliver to the community. ACRT hosted a free COVID-19 testing and vaccination clinic, and disseminated Know Your Rights information to protect people who were experiencing landlord violations and other institutional harms. Oneyda demonstrated resiliency, resourcefulness, and unrelenting leadership during tumultuous times. Over a thousand families were given relief when all other institutions failed to protect them. Oneyda and ACRT continue to carry the motto to this day, “el pueblo cuida al pueblo” or “the village takes care of the village.”
- Carmen Delgado Votaw (1935–2017)
Civil rights pioneer, author, community leader, and public servant are a few of the many hats worn by Carmen Delgado Votaw. Born September 18, 1935, in Humacao, Puerto Rico, Votaw was a fierce defender of civil rights for Latinx/e people. She was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to co-chair the National Advisory Committee for Women and served as the president of the Interamerican Commission of Women of the Organization of American States. Throughout her career, she traveled to over 80 countries and met with more than 50 heads of state. As the first Latina chief of staff to a member of Congress, she worked to address challenges facing 3.5 million Puerto Ricans living on the island. A resident of Bethesda, Maryland, she was a recipient of the National Hispanic Heritage Award and the National Women’s History Project for Distinguished Lifetime Achievement.
- Sol del Ande Mendez Eaton (1932–2020)
Sol del Ande Mendez Eaton was perhaps as inspiring athletically as she was with overcoming adversity. Born June 14, 1932, in San Cristobal, Venezuela, Eaton was an all-star professional diver and basketball player. In 1952, she was selected to represent Venezuela in the Olympics in diving, but was unable to compete due to a training incident that resulted in her becoming blind. Eventually, she regained her eyesight after a severe health battle. Eaton spent her adult life in Lanham, Maryland, and held a B.S. in Chemistry from New Mexico State University. She served as a chemist at The National Cancer Institute and as an equal employment officer at other agencies. She also served on and chaired countless Prince George’s County and state-wide commissions that fought for civil rights and migrant workers, against housing and employment discrimination, and she was a leader of the Latinx/e community.