Oklahoma notable latinos
Gomez, Cecil (1923-). Cecil Gomez has contributed to the documentation of early Mexican migration to Oklahoma through his numerous autobiographical and nonfic-tional works. In his most recent book, A Mexican Twilight, Cecil chronicles the life history of his ancestors, who moved to Oklahoma as early as 1915, settling in the Y, a nickname given to the rail yard where Mexican families were housed. He is a World War II U.S. Navy veteran, and he retired as an accountant.
Helton, Aurora Ramirez (1924-). Born in Sand Springs, Oklahoma, of Mexican coal miner and farmworker parents, Helton has been a spokesperson for Latino and human rights. Having lived firsthand much of the discrimination facing Mexicans in the state, Aurora, along with her husband, Jack Helton, has been involved in numerous organizations that address the needs of Latino residents. As a way to foster better community relations, Helton has helped implement the expansion of a much needed bilingual officer corps in the police academy.
Charney, Yolanda (1935-). Born in El Paso, Texas, of Mexican parents, Charney was one of the founders of the Greater Tulsa Area Hispanic Affairs Commission and the Hispanic American Foundation. Her many contributions to the Latino community have emerged from the need for a public Hispanic voice at various levels of local government. She has recently been named project chairwoman and member of the Tulsa Steering Committee for the Oklahoma Centennial.
Orta, Victor (1938-). Reverend Orta came to Oklahoma from Texas in the 1970s to start the first Hispanic Baptist Church. His long career working with the Latino community evolved from farmworker assistance programs to recent lobbying before the U.S. Congress for legalization of undocumented workers through his organization, The American Dream Coalition.
Fennell, Patricia B. (1941-). Born in Quito, Ecuador, Fennell moved to the Oklahoma City area in the 1960s. As president and founder of the Latino Community Development
Agency, she has been instrumental in promoting education opportunities and outreach initiatives for Latino youth as well as supporting numerous programs that seek to improve the quality of life of underprivileged Latino residents of the Oklahoma City area.
Cruz, Edgar (1962-). Born in Oklahoma City to Mexican parents, Cruz is an internationally known classical guitarist. Trained in classical guitar at Oklahoma City University, Cruz has been performing for over 20 years, and he has produced over 15 albums and performed in hundreds of festivals nationally and internationally. He is the son of Manuel Cruz II, an established mariachi performer in Oklahoma City.
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