Hispanic Heritage Month in Virginia

Hispanic Heritage Month Logo Header Image

Virginia.gov honors the contributions of Hispanic Americans in Virginia during national Hispanic Heritage month, September 15 - October 15.

Noteworthy Hispanic Men and Women

Through Hispanic Heritage Month, Virginia.gov's spotlight celebrates the history, culture, and contributions of individuals who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Spanish-speaking nations of the Caribbean. Meet some of these noteworthy Virginians!

Photo of Lyons Sanchezconcha

Lyons Sanchezconcha

The Chairman

Lyons Sanchezconcha serves as the graduation coach at Huguenot High School in Richmond Public Schools. Having previously served in roles in college access, student-athlete advising, restorative practices, and as a classroom teacher, Lyons is passionate about expanding opportunities to students and families in Richmond, and across Virginia.

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Photo of Ana Ines King

Ana Ines Barragan King

The Ambassador of Dance and Culture

The joy and beauty of South American dance and culture has become a part of Richmond and Virginia's culture thanks to the work of Ana Ines Barragan King.

One of the Library of Virginia's Women in History honorees, King is a native of Columbia, South America who learned dance from her mother at a young age. She moved to Richmond and VCU after marriage, and in 1997 established the Latin Ballet of Virginia. 

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Photo of Providencia

Providencia "Provi" Velazquez Gonzalez

The Activist

Born in Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico, Providencia "Provi" Velazquez Gonzalez moved to New York in 1934 in order to continue nursing studies. On a visit to her former island home, she became dismayed at the lack of resources doctors had to treat cancer patients. After returning to New York, she organized a Latino marathon that raised $20,000 for Corazones Contra El Cancer (Hearts against Cancer), which donated the funds to a hospital in Puerto Rico for oncology research and treatment.

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Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month in Virginia by checking out these fantastic events

The History and Facts

The History of Hispanic Heritage Month

The observance of Hispanic Heritage Month began in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson. It was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting Sept. 15. The monthlong observance was enacted into law Aug. 17, 1988.

Hispanic Contributions to Virginia History

People of Hispanic heritage have long played important roles in Virginia history. In 1570, Spanish explorers established a Jesuit settlement at the confluence of the James and York rivers. Spain’s backing of the young colonies during the American Revolution provided much-needed financial, logistical and manpower resources.

What's the word?

The terms "Hispanic" and "Latino" are often used interchangeably. "Hispanic" refers to people with origins in Spanish-speaking countries, including Spain. "Latino" describes people originating from Latin America, regardless of their native language.

Latinos in Virginia - Current Population estimates

Hispanic Innovation

In conjunction with Hispanic Heritage Month, the Department of Commerce's United States Patent and Trademark Office is recognizing some Hispanic Americans whose inventions contributed to the nation's social and economic well-being. Below are just a few snapshots of these historic and innovative acheivements.

Fernando Torres

Fernando Torres

SIM Cards

Born in Nicaragua, Fernando Torres has four patents, including U.S. Patent 8,478,341 for "Automatic Selection of SIM Cards in Mobile Devices."

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Jozsef Biró Laszlo

Jozsef Biró Laszlo

Fountain Pen

Born in Hungary and then later he migrated to Argentina, Jozsef Biró Laszlo was granted U.S. Patent 2,258,841 October 14, 1941 for a "Fountain Pen" - the father of the modern ballpoint pen.

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Elena T. Medo

Elena T. Medo

Breast Pump System

Born in CaliforniaElena T. Medo has been granted nine U.S. Patents, including U.S. Patent 5,971,952 for a "Breast Pump System Using Wall Vacuum Source."

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Hugo Terán Salguero

Hugo Terán Salguero

Rotary Engine

Born in Bolivia, Hugo Terán Salguero was granted U.S. Patent 4,055,156 for a "Rotary Engine."

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Lydia Villa-Komaroff

Lydia Villa-Komaroff

DNA & Protein Synthesis

Born in MéxicoLydia Villa-Komaroff has been granted U.S. Patent 4,565,785 for "Recombinant DNA Molecule" and U.S. Patent 4,411,994 for "Protein Synthesis." She was the third Mexican-American woman to earn a doctorate in the sciences in the U.S.

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Learning Resources

Check out the resources below to learn more about Hispanic Americans in Virginia.