NEW YORK — National Hispanic Heritage Month recognizes the contributions and influence of Hispanic Americans to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States.

The month-long celebration begins each year on Sept. 15, the anniversary of independence for several Latin American countries, and ends on Oct. 15.

PIX11 celebrated Hispanic Heritage all month long by highlighting one of New York’s Very Own Hispanic icons each week.


Celia Cruz was a Cuban-born singer who helped to popularize salsa music in the U.S. After her arrival to New York during the 1960s, Cruz went on to become of the few women, at the time, to succeed in the male-dominated world of salsa music. Her catchphrase “¡Azúcar!” (“Sugar!”) has become one of the most recognizable symbols of salsa music.

Often referred to as the “queen of salsa,” her celebration of Cuban culture throughout her career helped many Afro-Latino Americans learn to embrace their own heritage.


Puerto Rican professional baseball player, Francisco Miguel Lindor Serrano, is currently the shortstop for the New York Mets.

Nicknamed “Mr. Smile,” he has broken records for most ever postseason hits for a player less than 23 years old. During his time with the Cleveland Indians, he was the youngest batter to have six World Series hits.

People in his hometown of Caguas, PR, know him as “Paquito.”


New York’s Very Own Rosie Perez is a Puerto Rican actress, choreographer, dancer, and activist.

Born in Bushwick, Brooklyn, she went on to be discovered by Spike Lee for her first major acting role in “Do The Right Thing.” She was later nominated for the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the film “Fearless.” Perez is an avid activist for Puerto Rican rights, which has been documented in her directorial debut “Yo soy Boricua, pa’que tu lo sepas!”


Ernesto Antonio Puente, Jr., best known as Tito Puente, was a musical pioneer, fusing Latin music with jazz.

Puente grew up in New York City’s Spanish Harlem and became a professional musician at the age of 13. Crowned the “King of Latin Jazz,” Puente was known for putting a big-band spin on traditional Latin music. In 1948, he formed the Latin music sensation band that became known as the Tito Puente Orchestra. The musical pioneer received numerous awards for his work, including five Grammys.


Lin-Manuel Miranda is a New York-born actor, composer, lyricist, and writer. Miranda developed a devotion to musical theater and hip-hop at a young age, which led to his work writing and starring in the Tony-winning Broadway musicals “In the Heights'” and “Hamilton.”

Miranda, the son of Puerto Rican parents, grew up in a northern Manhattan neighborhood with a music-oriented Hispanic American family. His work blending modern music forms with classic musical theater earned him a Pulitzer Prize and other awards.


Julia de Burgos was a Puerto Rican poet, educator, and activist for women’s rights and Puerto Rican independence. De Burgos was also a civil rights activist for women and Afro-Caribbean writers.

She earned her teaching degree from the University of Puerto Rico and periodically lived in New York, writing for the Spanish-speaking newspaper, Pueblos Hispanos. She is best known for her poem “Rio Grande de Loiza,” and published several books. According to reports, the University of Puerto Rico awarded de Burgos an honorary doctorate in 1987. There are also public schools in Puerto Rico, New York, Philadelphia and Chicago named after her.