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Celebrating Black History: 5 Afro-Latinos Making an Impact

In honor of Black History Month, Saramar Group is highlighting the impact of Afro-Latinos in the United States. Did you know 14. 4 million Latinos identify as Afro-Latinos and 1 in 3 African Americans are Latinos? Afro-Latinos make up 79.5% of the U.S. workforce and control $500 billion in buying power. Afro-Latinos are creating a cultural legacy in music, sports, politics, literature, food and beyond.1

Here are 5 Afro-Latinos Making an Impact

U.S. Representative Adriano Espaillat

U.S. Representative Adriano Espaillat is the first Dominican American to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives and his congressional district includes Harlem, East Harlem, West Harlem, Hamilton Heights, Washington Heights, Inwood, Marble Hill, and the north-west Bronx. First elected to Congress in 2016, Representative Espaillat was sworn into office on January 3, 2017, during the 115th Congress and is serving his third term in Congress.

Representative Espaillat currently serves as a member of the influential U.S. House Committee on Appropriations responsible for funding the federal government’s vital activities to keep the United States safe, strong, and moving forward. Representative Espaillat is also a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC).

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Maritza Correia McClendon

Maritza Correia McClendo is known as the first Puerto Rican of African descent to be a member of the U.S. Olympic swimming team. She is  three-time world champion, two-time Pan American Games gold medalist, and was the first African American to break a world record in swimming. Maritza is currently serving as the ambassador for USA Swimming’s Swim 1922 Program. The program, in partnership with Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, strives to lower drowning rates in the African American Community.

David “Big Papi” Ortiz

David Ortiz, born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, is the oldest of 4 children and was destined for baseball greatness at a young age. Hailed as, “The Most Important Player of Red Sox History” Big Papi’s legacy is cemented for years to come in the MLB and across the globe. He has since become a go-to mentor for many of the young Dominican’s making the leap and chasing the dreams of playing in the MLB in one day.  One time winner of the MLB’s Roberto Clemente Award, presented to the player “who best represents the game of baseball through positive contributions on and off the field.” Big Papi’s commitment to helping children receive essential pediatric care in the United States and the Dominican Republic shows truly his commitment to the community and being more than just a player.

Esperanza Spalding

Esperanza Spalding has been hailed as a prodigy since a teen. She began learning and playing instruments at the young age of five years old. Esperanza is born to an African-American father and part-Hispanic mother. She is the first Jazz Musician to win a Grammy in the Best New Artist Category, beating out the more famous nominees such as Justin Bieber.

Spalding played for U.S. President Barack Obama three times in 2009, twice at the White House, and once at that year’s Nobel Prize ceremony in Oslo.

MJ Rodriguez

MJ Rodriguez is a Puerto Rican-born actress and activist. She is one of the first transgender Afro-Latinas to star in a television drama. In 2019, the actress became the first transgender Afro-Latina to sign on as an Olay Body ambassador.  The award-winning actress continues to push artistic boundaries on and offscreen and is inspiring a whole generation of trans and nonbinary artists through her incredibly diverse career in theater, TV, and film.

Sources: 1) Hispanic Star

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