Map of Kentucky

Kentucky notable latinos

Cardenal, Ernesto (1925-). The Nicaraguan priest and poet spent some of his formative years at a Kentucky monastery. After supporting a failed revolt against dictator Anastasio Somoza in 1954, he left his country to join the Gethsemani Trappist monastery, south of Louisville, in 1957. At Gethsemani, Cardenal was mentored by Novice Master Thomas Merton, the renowned Roman Catholic author and poet. Merton and Cardenal developed a close relationship during Cardenal’s three years in Kentucky. Cardenal considered Merton a lifelong influence; Merton tried unsuccessfully to gain permission from his abbot to found a new monastic community with Cardenal in Latin America. In addition to his continued work as a poet and a Roman Catholic priest, Cardenal founded the liberation theology-influenced community of Solentiname, in Nicaragua, and he served as the country’s minister of culture from 1979 to 1987, during the Sandinista government of Daniel Ortega.

Lagunas, Miguel (1938-). The founder or cofounder of all major Latino organizations in Louisville migrated from Mexico City in 1956. He spent three years in the U.S. Army during the 1960s, graduated from the University of Louisville in 1969 with a degree in electrical engineering, and then worked for Louisville Gas and Electric until 1996. In the 1970s Lagunas emerged as the most important Latino leader in Louisville, eventually founding or helping to found all major Latino organizations in the city, including the Hispanic Business Association, Adelante Hispanic Achievers, El Club Latinoamericano de Louisville, the Hispano/Latino Coalition, the Liga Deportiva Latinoamericana, and the Police Academy for Hispanic Citizens. Since his retirement he has devoted his time to Latino charities and organizations in Louisville.

Cova, Antonio Rafael de la (1950-). Author of Cuban Confederate Colonel: The Life of Ambrosio Jose Gonzales and The Moncada Attack: Birth of the Cuban Revolution, de la Cova is Kentucky’s most prominent Latino scholar. Born in Havana, de la Cova came to Louisville with his family and other Cuban refugees in 1963 and attended Butler High School. He has devoted his scholarly career to the complex relationships between Latin America, especially Cuba, and the United States. He has unearthed almost all there is known about the more than 260 Kentucky filibusters who invaded Cuba in 1850 under General Narciso Lopez to end Spanish colonial rule. De la Cova has a PhD from West Virginia University, and he has taught Latin American and Latino history at the Rose-Hulman Institute and at Indiana University. In 2006 he was awarded the Annual Fellowship of the Kentucky Historical Society. He maintains a leading Web site for Latin American and Latino studies, Latino Studies Resources at http://www.

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