Latino Scholars Awarded National Humanities Medal By The Obama Administration
In a ceremony held on Monday at the White House, President Barack Obama awarded the National Humanities Medal to nine honorees. Among them were two Latino academics, Professors Teófilo Ruiz and Ramón Saldívar.
Ruiz is a Distinguished Professor of History at the University of California at Los Angeles and published author with over 13 books under his belt.
"An accomplished teacher and author, Dr. Ruiz has captivated students and scholars by deepening our knowledge of medieval Spain and Europe, and exploring the role terror has played in society for centuries," Obama said of the UCLA professor according to The Latin American Herald Tribune.
"I am greatly honored not just for the award to myself but for all the Latinos in this country," said Professor Ruiz to the Huffington Post. "Our work is representative of all of our common aspirations, endeavors, and willingness to contribute a small bit to human knowledge. It is a great honor, and a firm stand by the National Council for the Humanities and by President Obama that we all count and can contribute to American society."
Saldívar is a literature professor at Stanford University. His research is focused on the areas of cultural studies, literary theory, modernism, Chicano narrative, and post-colonial literature. He was awarded the medal for his bold explorations of identity along the US-Mexico border. Through his studies of Chicano literature and the development of the novel in Europe and America, he challenges his readers to take notice of the cultural and literary markings that unite and divide us, according to a press release by The White House.
"I am honored to have been recognized among a stellar group of scholars, writers, and artists," said Saldívar to The Huffington Post. "As a humanist literary scholar and professor, my work has always been to teach young people that the strength of our country comes from its amazing ability to create unity from among the multiple differences that our society encompasses. To quote the poet Walt Whitman, the United States 'are essentially the greatest poem' because we are 'not merely a nation but a teeming nation of nations.'"
Obama also presented the National Medal of Arts which honors artists, writers and organizations for their contributions to the nation. Medals in this category were awarded to actor Al Pacino, painter Will Barnet and poet Rita Dove among others.
Receiving medals for humanities, the two Latinos joined philosopher and novelist Kwame Anthony Appiah; poet John Ashbery; author Robert Darnton, author; social critic and professor Andrew Delbanco; pianist Charles Rosen; and economist Amartya Sen.
ALSO ON HUFFINGTON POST: LATINOS WHO CONTRIBUTE TO CHARITABLE CAUSES:
Since starting his solo career in 2000, Juanes has been active in humanitarian causes in his native Colombia. He founded the organization, <a href="http://www.fundacionmisangre.org/" target="_hplink">Fundacion Mi Sangre</a>, which works with underprivileged Colombian children through the Educacion Para La Paz (Education For Peace Program). But he has said his most passionate cause is his work with <a href="http://www.looktothestars.org/celebrity/1572-juanes" target="_hplink"> victims of anti-personnel mines. </a> <a href="http://fundacionmisangre.org/el-impacto.html" target="_hplink">By 2010, Juanes' foundation had helped more than 1,500 victims of anti-personnel mines. In addition, more than 46,000 children received assistance from the Education For Peace Program. </a> This picture was taken at <a href="http://insightcrime.org/investigations/insight-exclusives/item/906-medellins-turbulent-comuna-13" target="_hplink">Comuna 13 </a> a shantytown in Medellin, Colombia, during a concert for International Peace Day in September 2010.
As Gabrielle Solis in ABC's Desperate Housewives, Eva Longoria plays a shallow, money-driven housewife with little time for anyone but herself and her friends on Wisteria Lane. But that portrayal is far removed from the real-life Longoria, <a href="http://www.almaawards.com/" target="_hplink">the ALMA award</a> producer who has dedicated a big part of her time to charitable causes. A recent project, "Padres Contra El Cancer" ("Parents Against Cancer"), is a non-profit dedicated to improving the quality of life of Latino children with cancer and their families. <a href="http://www.looktothestars.org/celebrity/64-eva-longoria" target="_hplink"> Longoria was awarded the "Latina Visionary and Community Empowerment Award" for her contributions at the 21st National Hispanic Women's Conference, the Hispanic Women's Corporation.</a> In 2011, Longoria <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/17/eva-longoria-on-producing-new-documentary-the-harvest-la-cosecha_n_1016377.html" target="_hplink">co-produced The Harvest / La Cosecha</a>, a documentary which shines a light on the terrible conditions facing migrant worker children and hopes to encourage passage of <a href="http://www.hrw.org/support-care" target="_hplink">The Children's Act for Responsible Employment (CARE Act)</a>. This picture was taken at the Padres Contra El Cancer annual gala at The Hollywood Palladium in 2010.
Rosario Dawson is co-founder of Voto Latino,<a href="http://www.votolatino.org/about/" target="_hplink"> a dynamic and growing non-partisan organization with civic engagement campaigns that have reached 55 million Latino households nationwide. Voto Latino is dedicated to bringing new and diverse voices into the political process by engaging youth, media, technology and celebrities to promote positive change. </a> But Dawson's philanthropic work extends beyond Latinos. The actress has taken part in<a href="http://www.stayclose.org/" target="_hplink">"Stay Close," </a>a campaign to encourage parents, families, and friends to remain close to lesbians, gays and bisexual people in their lives. Dawson also did a reading at the 2011 <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K77tim5VsJY" target="_hplink">"Any One of Us: Words From Prison"</a> event, <a href="http://www.looktothestars.org/celebrity/500-rosario-dawson" target="_hplink">where performers used words and song to highlight the connection between violence against women and incarceration.</a> The picture above was taken during Dawson's runway walk at Fashion For Relief on May 2011. All proceeds went to victims of the earthquake that struck Japan on March 2011.
George Lopez is best known for comedy, but when it comes to philanthropic causes the Mexican-American TV host is extremely serious. Lopez was one of the first celebrities to lend a hand after a massive earthquake struck Haiti in 2010. He threw a benefit concert <a href="http://mylatinovoice.com/music-and-arts/46-tv/1525-george-lopez-helping-haiti-watch-live.html" target="_hplink">"Help Haiti With George Lopez" </a> with various musicians and comedians. All the proceeds from the event went to the earthquake victims. Lopez also founded <a href="http://thelopezfoundation.org/" target="_hplink">The Lopez Foundation</a>, which seeks to "create positive change" for underprivileged children and families facing health and educational challenges. <a href="http://www.kidney.org/news/newsroom/newsitemArchive.cfm?id=270" target="_hplink">In addition, Lopez has been a spokesperson for the National Kidney Foundation</a> since his wife donated a kidney after Lopez required a transplant in 2005. This picture was taken at the 2011 ALMA award ceremony hosted by Lopez.
Known mainly for dancing and musical talent, the Colombian singer Shakira was recently honored as <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/10/shakira-person-of-the-year_n_1085914.html" target="_hplink">2011 Person Of The Year by the Latin Recording Academy. </a> The award took into account not only her musical accomplishment but also her worldwide humanitarian efforts, including her leadership of the <a href="http://www.fundacionpiesdescalzos.com/" target="_hplink">Pies Descalzos Foundation, </a>which opens educational opportunities to underprivileged children in Colombia. <a href="http://www.fundacionpiesdescalzos.com/en/who-we-are.html" target="_hplink">The foundation opened five schools in different regions of the country, serving more than 4,000 children with educational, nutritional and psychological support. </a> <a href="http://www.unicef.org/people/people_58988.html" target="_hplink">Shakira also has worked as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador</a>. In this picture, she sits with a woman to learn how women process rice grains in Modhu Shudanpur village of the Rajshahi district in Bangladesh. As a UNICEF ambassador, Shakira toured coastal villages of the South Asian nation that were affected by the November 2007 cyclone.
The Spanish pop music singer is an impassioned advocate of environmental causes. He was part of the 2007 Live Earth concert to raise awareness about environmental issues. Iglesias has said that he participated in Live Earth after watching <a href="http://www.looktothestars.org/celebrity/567-enrique-iglesias" target="_hplink">"the documentary [An Inconvenient Truth] and wanted to get involved, so I had my manager make some calls". </a> Iglesias has also supported <a href="http://www.habitat.org/default.aspx?tgs=MTEvMTUvMjAxMSAzOjE4OjAwIFBN" target="_hplink">Habitat For Humanity</a>,<a href="http://www.helpforheroes.org.uk/" target="_hplink"> Help for Heroes</a> and the <a href="http://www.mda.org/" target="_hplink">Muscular Dystrophy Association</a>. This picture was taken at the Latin GRAMMY Awards at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on Nov. 11.
The New York native of Puerto Rican descent is an avid supporter of charitable causes, especially helping sick children. In 2009 she received the "Mother's Who Make A Difference" award from Love Our Children USA, <a href="http://www.loveourchildrenusa.org/" target="_hplink"> a national nonprofit group.</a> In 2010, JLo helped raise $6.7 million for AIDS Research at a gala she co-hosted in France during the Cannes Film Festival. This picture was taken at the "Noche de Ninos Gala" benefiting Childrens Hospital of Los Angeles. Lopez was invited after her launch of <a href="http://www.looktothestars.org/news/4606-jennifer-lopez-launches-new-charity" target="_hplink">The Maribel Foundation, a charity named after Marc Anthony's sister, who died of a brain tumor. The charity allows specialists in LA hospitals to treat children around the world using telecommunication technology.</a>
The Victoria's Secret Angel and world-renowned super model, Adriana Lima, dedicates her time to helping the needy in Brazil. In her native city of Salvador, Bahia, <a href="http://www.superiorpics.com/adriana_lima/interview.html" target="_hplink">she helped construct and expand the city's orphanage Caminhos da Luz (Ways of Light.) </a> She also helps buy clothes for impoverished children in Bahia.
Calle 13 has created a partnership with UNICEF, MTV Latin America and Tr3s: MTV, Musica y Mas to launch the global campaign <a href="http://www.mtvexit.org/?lang=en_us" target="_hplink">"MTV EXIT"</a> in Latin America and spanish-speaking communities in the US. "MTX Exit" aims to raise awareness and prevention on exploitation and human trafficking. Frontman Rene Perez directed the documentary <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vs2qblN76HA" target="_hplink">"Invisible Slaves"</a> ("Esclavo Invisibles") which follows the story of four victims of human trafficking and exploitation. The subjects talk about how they were first deceived, then abused and how they finally gained freedom. It was shot in Tapachula, Mexico. The documentary was produced by UNICEF.
Rico Rodriguez who plays Manny Delgado, Sofia Vergara's son in Modern Family, recently joined the <a href="http://www.stjude.org/stjude/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=6f2c4fc0c19cd210VgnVCM1000001e0215acRCRD&vgnextchannel=80b94fc0c19cd210VgnVCM1000001e0215acRCRD" target="_hplink">"Thanks and Giving"</a> Campaign at the Los Angeles St. Jude Children's Hospital. He raided Kmart's toy department where he stocked up on Christmas gifts for children at the hospital fighting cancer and other deadly diseases.
Puerto Rican salsa superstar Marc Anthony co-founded The Maestro Cares Foundation with Colombian-born entrepreneur Henry Cárdenas in January 2012. The non-profit foundation aims to help organizations in Latin America that work with disadvantaged children. In August 2012, the singer-songwriter and his foundation, Maestro Cares, hosted a <a href="http://www.maestrocares.org/maestro-cares-raises-over-100000-at-chicago-fundraiser-in-support-of-orphaned-children-in-latin-america" target="_hplink">fundraiser at Chicago's Sofitel Water Tower that raised over $100,000</a> to complete a residence hall and learning facility for over 200 children at Orfanato Niños de Cristo (Children of Christ Orphanage) in the Dominican Republic, according to a communiqué by the foundation.
Also on HuffPost: