Highlighting the Voices of MacArthur Fellows During Hispanic Heritage Month

MacArthur Foundation
4 min readSep 16, 2022


This September and October, we recognize the impact of Hispanic Americans on the history and culture of the United States.

MacArthur Fellows of Hispanic or Latin American descent are tackling several issues in a wide range of fields, and have displayed exceptional creativity. We pulled together quotes from MacArthur Fellows that speak to their work, identities, and personal experiences.

Let us know in the comments which ones resonate with you:

“I think of myself as a Latin American author who happens to write in English and an American novelist who happens to write about Latin America. You know, the United States is big enough and the Latino population is large enough, and diverse enough, and complex enough to, I think, have spaces like that.” — Daniel Alarcón, Writer and Radio Producer

“The Latinx community, right now, has not yet had the opportunity to have their voices heard and to be incorporated in a real and meaningful way into American immigration history. We live in a moment where undocumented migration is one of the most polarizing and politicized topics. That does not negate the fact that this is an important part of our shared history and one that we need to appreciate and understand as we move forward.” — Jason De Leon, Anthropologist

“Growing up along the US/MX border in El Paso, Texas I felt somewhat alienated by what I saw on television in both Mexico and the United States. Especially when it was news reports about the border region. But I didn’t really have the tools to express this discontent until I left home. Now that I am a filmmaker, I enjoy telling stories that break down some of the more common stereotypes.” — Cristina Ibarra, Documentary Filmmaker

“There are sort of two ways of dealing with being an outsider, being a minority culture in a school. You either blend in or you grab that flag and wave it as high as you can. And I think I was very much of the grab the flag school, particularly in high school, when I realized this is actually- this is awesome. I bring something to the table that my peers don’t.” — Lin-Manuel Miranda, Playwright, Composer, and Performer

“Americans didn’t really know even the history of Latinos in the United States, much less the history of anti-Latinx or anti-Mexican violence. And so, it takes people really trying to learn just basic information about the history of the border, the history of Mexican- Americans in places like west Texas, to be able to understand how it is that such an injustice could happen with complete impunity.” — Monica Munoz Martinez, Public Historian

“When I started to think that I might make films, I had the question: What are you going to make the films about? This was in the mid-1990s and there were anti-immigrant vigilantly movements here in California. There were anti-immigrant proposals at the state level. So, I sort of felt like, ‘Wow. These people who are being talked about in the news, these immigrants, these aliens. That’s me! That’s us.’ So, I’m going to make films right there. I’m going to go intervene in that conversation. I thought it would be a film, instead, it’s been a life.” — Alex Rivera, Filmmaker and Media Artist

“The mindsets that drive our daily decisions as a society must change. The danger we face goes way beyond a shrinking middle class. And while my own personal experiences are solidly middle class, I’ve spent my adult working life in communities where people are persistently pursuing the opportunity to join the middle class; places where hope still exists in abundance. But the pressure put on poor people and their communities are causing people to break.” — Juan Salgado, Community Leader



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