The Hispanic Heritage Foundation handed out its annual awards last week to personalities from the world of film, sports, music and education, many of them supporters of efforts to bring about comprehensive immigration reform.
The awards, created in 1987 to commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month, were presented Sept. 5 at a gala held at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. The event included performances and speeches by some of the artists most beloved by Hispanic Americans.
“The Hispanic Heritage Awards are proud to honor yet another inspiring group of Latino leaders,” said Jose Antonio Tijerino, president and CEO of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, announcing award winners “The Hispanic community has made significant contributions throughout history on America and the world and will continue to do so in the future on a much larger scale.
Actress Eva Longoria, whose causes have often taken her to the nation’s capital, received the foundation’s Community Service Award. Mexican musical group Los Tigres del Norte was recognized as a “legend” in the entertainment world.
Los Tigres front man Jorge Hernandez, in an interview with Efe said the band, along with the nonprofit’s other honorees, visited the White House earlier in the day where they discussed the need for immigration reform, and for Congress to vote to legalize the status of millions of Hispanics who have been living in the U.S. for years without authorization.
“It’s important for this community, even if it takes time, it should be done to help these families without a home,” said Hernandez, who plays the accordion and sings on the award winning and popular winning recording “Thank you, America Without Borders.”
The foundation’s design award was presented to Spanish chef Jose Andres, who after more than 20 years living in the U.S., is now one of the most renowned chefs in the country.
“I am Spanish, proud to be, but in America I am Latino or Hispanic, and we are a big family that united can accomplish many things,” Jose Andres said.
“[Immigration] Reform is necessary because we have immigrants who been denied the right to become full citizens which is unjust, because this society runs thanks to these immigrants,” he said.
The award for “Vision” was given to Mexican singer Lucero, who said it’s time for the country to recognize the importance of the Hispanic community. “Parts of this country would not function without the work of this community,” she said. Actor Diego Luna, who just finished shooting and directing “Chavez”, a biopic about Chicano labor leader Cesar Chavez, received the group’s “Inspira,” or inspiration recognition.
Luna told Efe that it is “amazing” that a movie had not yet been made about Chavez, who led a historic struggle for farm workers in California and is one of the most important Hispanic leaders in U.S. history.
“Things have changed for the better for the Hispanic community, a community very important to the growth of this country. Immigration reform that is necessary and inevitable,” said Luna.
Colombian Formula 1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya also picked up an award, in his case for his long career as one of Latin America’s top racecar drivers, and for excellence in the sports field.
Miami Dade County School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho received the award for education, while Voto Latino President Maria Teresa Kumar received the organization’s annual Leadership Award.
The gala featured performances by top Latino artists, and was filmed for broadcast Sept. 15 on MundoFox. Check local listings for times.