As the African and Latin cultures share a long and intricate lineage that tells a compelling history, it is often times overlooked. So we decided to shed some light, in homage of Black History Month, over some of the most notable Black figures of Latin heritage.
This Cuban native was world renowned as the Queen of Salsa and reigned for half a century with distinction and AZUCAR! Her powerful voice and electrifying rhythm accumulated more than 100 worldwide recognitions, multiple platinum and gold records, three GRAMMY awards and four Latin GRAMMY awards, as well as a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.
Noted for being signed as an amateur free agent to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1952, but formerly played for the Pittsburgh Pirates. A famous Right fielder, Clemente was one of the first Puerto Ricans to play professional ball when he did. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973, after he died trying to deliver aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.
Considered one of the fiercest professional boxers in Puerto Rican history. Trinidad registered professional at 17 and holds the record for most welterweight title defenses (15). He won his first world championship when he defeated Maurica Blocker for the International Boxing Federation's welterweight belt. Trinidad also defeated Oscar De La Hoya winning the Lineal & World Boxing Council welterweight championships.
She's been casted time and time again to play Black roles, but this NYC native was born to Cubanos. The American-television actress has played in numerous films, countless TV shows, and stage productions including: Don't Let Me Down, I Think I Love My Wife, The Matrix (Revolutions & Reloaded), Gossip Girl, Drop Dead Diva, Law & Order, Dream Girls, and A Raisin in the Sun just to name a (very) few.
Of Dominican and Puerto Rican decent, Saldana was born in Jersey, raised in Queens and honed her performing skills in the Dominican Republic, spending seven years training at the prestigious ECOS Espacio de Danza Dance Academy, where she learned ballet as well as other dance forms. Saldana has gained the respect and praise from industry insiders such as Jerry Bruckheimer and Steven Spielberg and actors/actresses such as Tom Hanks, Bernie Mac, Keira Knightley, Ashton Kutcher, Kirsten Dunst and Orlando Bloom.
Manuel Zapata Olivella
Considered to be the most prominent Afro-Colombian to this day, Olivella was a writer, novelist, anthropologist and social activist dedicated to the political issues of his native country. He studied medicine in Le Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Bogotá, traveled to and taught in various universities around the world about the Black culture of Colombia.
Sammy Davis Jr.
The man is considered to be the greatest entertainer of all time. Sammy Davis Jr is of Puerto Rican decent and for 60 staggering years, from his debut as a four-year-old child star in the late 1920s, to his untimely death in 1990 at the age of 64, he more than justified his title of 'Mr. Entertainment.' When he wasn't inspiring headlines on stage, he was making news of it as a founder member of the Rat Pack with fellow superstars Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.
This beauty queen comes from a Dominican and Portuguese background. Lopez has appeared in Vogue Italia and graced one of the four covers of its "All Black" issue, while Naomi Campbell, Liya Kebede, and Jourdan Dunn graced the alternative ones. Since then, she has walked for Shiatzy Chen, Fendi, Dolce & Gabbana, Jean Paul Gaultier, Karl Lagerfeld, Marc Jacobs, Lanvin, Hermès and several other established fashion houses.
Jose Francisco Peña Gomez
Leader of the Dominican Revolutionary Party, Jose Francisco Peña Gomez was born in Mao, Valverde, in The Dominican Republic to Haitian immigrants. A three-time candidate for president of the Dominican Republic and former Mayor of Santo Domingo, he is considered, along with Joaquín Balaguer and Juan Bosch, as one of the most prominent Dominican political figures of the 20th century.