LATINO VOICES
12/28/2016 04:00 pm ET Updated Jan 05, 2017

13 Times Latinos Filled Us With Hope And Pride In 2016

What a year!
Getty/Julieta Salgado

Even in the darkest moments of 2016, Latinos offered us a ray of hope.

Latinos shone bright this year and accomplished historic feats along the way. Lin-Manuel Miranda dazzled his way to a Pulitzer on the Broadway stage, tennis player Monica Puig won Puerto Rico’s first gold medal and “Orange is the New Black” star Dascha Polanco became a body positive role model on the red carpet.

Here are 13 times (to name only a few) that Latinos filled us with pride in 2016. 

  • When Alejandro G. Iñárritu & Emmanuel Lubezki proved they're unstoppable
    The year was off to a winning&nbsp;start when Mexico's Alejandro G. I&ntilde;&aacute;rritu <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost
    Matt Sayles/AP
    The year was off to a winning start when Mexico's Alejandro G. Iñárritu won Best Director for "The Revenant" at the Academy Awards, making him the first director to win two back-to-back Oscars in 65 years.

    Mexican cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki also made history with "The Revenant," with which he won his third consecutive Oscar in the Best Cinematography category. He'd won for "Birdman" and "Gravity" in previous years.
  • When Chile won its first Oscar for Best Animated Short
    "Bear Story," an 11-minute film from Chilean filmmakers Gabriel Osorio and Pato Escala, won the&nbsp;Oscar for Best Animated
    Dan MacMedan via Getty Images
    "Bear Story," an 11-minute film from Chilean filmmakers Gabriel Osorio and Pato Escala, won the Oscar for Best Animated Short. It was the first Chilean film to even be nominated in the category, reports the LA Times.
  • When Monica Puig won Puerto Rico’s FIRST Olympic gold medal
    Puerto Ricans on the island and throughout the diaspora<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/monica-puig-puerto-rico-p
    Clive Brunskill via Getty Images
    Puerto Ricans on the island and throughout the diaspora lost their minds this summer when tennis player Monica Puig won the island’s first ever Olympic gold medal at the Rio Olympics.

    I think I united a nation,” Puig said in an emotional interview following her amazing performance. “And I just love where I come from.”
  • When Laurie Hernandez gave a badass performance at the Olympics
    Laurie Hernandez <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/laurie-hernandez-olympics-rio-gymnastics_us_57b1e2b5e4b07184041
    Harry How via Getty Images
    Laurie Hernandez absolutely crushed it at her first-ever Olympic games. The bubbly teen, who was the first U.S.-born Latina to join the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team since 1984 and the youngest member of the the #FinalFive, won a gold medal in the team all-around final and a silver medal during the women's beam competition.

    And the gymnast didn't stop there. Hernandez went on to prove her talent on the dance floor when she competed and won Season 23 of "Dancing with the Stars." 
  • When Catherine Cortez Masto became the first Latina elected to the Senate
    Former Nevada attorney general Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) made history in November when she became the <a href="http://w
    Ethan Miller via Getty Images
    Former Nevada attorney general Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) made history in November when she became the first Latina elected to the U.S. Senate.

    “I'm proud to be Nevada's 1st female and our nation's 1st Latina senator,” Masto, who is of Mexican descent, tweeted in the wee hours of Nov. 9. “ It’s about time our government mirrors the diversity of our nation.”

    We couldn’t agree more.
  • When Adriano Espaillat became the first formerly undocumented immigrant elected to Congress
    Adriano Espaillat <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/adriano-espaillat-undocumented_us_5822a7e2e4b0d9ce6fbfdfc1?sec
    Bill Clark via Getty Images
    Adriano Espaillat won the seat representing the 13th Congressional District in New York on election night, making him the first Dominican-American to be elected to Congress. The 62-year-old politician is also now the first formerly undocumented congressman in history.
  • When Bomba Estéreo’s “Soy Yo” became a self-love anthem for brown girls
    Colombia's Bomba Estéreo released the music video for their hit song “Soy Yo,” and garnered an outpouring of love from fans. The unapologetically quirky performance from the video’s star, Sarai Gonzalez’s, has been lauded as an “ode to little brown girls everywhere.”

    “The message of this video is just to be yourself and not care what anyone else thinks no matter what,” 11-year-old Gonzalez told NBC in September. “I’m proud to be a part of this video because I’ve overcome bullying.”
  • When Lin-Manuel Miranda became the MVP of 2016
    Lin-Manuel Miranda has had an incredibly busy and successful year. Not only did his Broadway sensation &ldquo;Hamilton: An Am
    Amanda Edwards via Getty Images
    Lin-Manuel Miranda has had an incredibly busy and successful year. Not only did his Broadway sensation “Hamilton: An American Musical” win a Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album in February, but it also won 11 Tony awards in June and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

    And with one of the songs he composed for Disney’s 2016 animated film “Moana” garnering pre-Oscar buzz, the 36-year-old New York native could be on track to become the youngest person to win an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and a Tony -- a coveted combination otherwise known as an EGOT.

    Miranda also used his platform this year to talk about issues he truly cares about, like Puerto Rico’s debt crisis.

    “I have a lot of family who are struggling in Puerto Rico, that’s not an abstract issue to me, that is a life or death issue occurring with my family,” he shared in June.
  • When undocumented valedictorians schooled the country
    During her high school graduation in June, Yale-bound valedictorian Larissa Martinez <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/e
    Brian Ach via Getty Images
    During her high school graduation in June, Yale-bound valedictorian Larissa Martinez revealed she was undocumented. “I am one of the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the shadows of the United States,” she shared. “I decided to stand before you today and reveal these unexpected realities because this might be my only chance to convey the truth to all of you that undocumented immigrants are people too.”

    Martinez's speech followed a similar statement from fellow Texan Mayte Lara Ibarra. The week prior, Ibarra tweeted photos from her high school graduation, in which she shared her GPA, the fact that she’d been awarded a full ride to the University of Texas Austin and is undocumented.
  • When a queer Latina author was tapped to write Marvel’s “America”
    Author Gabby Rivera represented queer Latinxs in a major way in 2016. She debuted &ldquo;Juliet Takes A Breath,&rdquo; a YA n
    Julieta Salgado
    Author Gabby Rivera represented queer Latinxs in a major way in 2016. She debuted “Juliet Takes A Breath,” a YA novel about a Puerto Rican lesbian from the Bronx in January. And in November, it was announced that Rivera had been tapped to write the story for Marvel’s first queer Latina superhero, “America.”

    The first issue of the comic will be released in March 2017. We can’t wait!
  • When Carmelo Anthony fought for black lives
    In the wake of July&rsquo;s fatal police shootings of <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/alton-sterling-video_us_57
    Andrew Burton via Getty Images
    In the wake of July’s fatal police shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, NBA star Carmelo Anthony used his platform to speak out against police brutality and social injustice.

    He, along with LeBron James, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade, opened the 2016 ESPY Awards with a powerful message urging athletes to take a stand against all violence and mend communities affected by racial discrimination.   

    “We cannot ignore the realities of the current state of America,” Anthony, whose late father, Carmelo Iriarte, was a member of the Young Lords, said. “The events of the past week have put a spotlight on the injustice, distrust and anger that plague so many of us. The system is broken. The problems are not new, the violence is not new and the racial divide definitely is not new. But the urgency to create change is at an all-time high.”
  • When Gina Rodriguez celebrated young lady bosses
    Gina Rodriguez was on a mission to give credit where credit was due in 2016. In addition to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpos
    Rich Polk via Getty Images
    Gina Rodriguez was on a mission to give credit where credit was due in 2016. In addition to launching her movement Mondays series on Instagram, where she highlights the accomplishments of Latinos in media, the Chicago-born boricua also produced and hosted the first annual Young Women’s Honors in December.

    “I want to infuse [the media] with heroes that look like them, that are from similar backgrounds or similar cultures, similar communities, that allow them to have a blueprint for a life that they can have themselves,” she explained in a promo video for the event.

    Mission accomplished.
  • When Dascha Polanco became a body positive role model
    Dominican-American actress Dascha Polanco was a <a href="http://www.refinery29.com/2016/10/126701/dascha-polanco-body-positiv
    Theo Wargo via Getty Images
    Dominican-American actress Dascha Polanco was a constant source of body-positivity throughout 2016, shutting down body shamers, calling out designers who refused to dress her and rocking a curve-hugging catsuit and a fierce AF bodysuit - jacket combo to NYFW in September. Polanco told Vogue in August that she wants to break barriers and prove that “even though I’m a size 8 or 10, I still can look as great as someone who’s a size 0.”
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BEFORE YOU GO

PHOTO GALLERY
17 Spectacular Latino Clapbacks Of 2016
CONVERSATIONS