Until recently, Hispanic Americans were the fastest growing minority group in the United States, accounting for over half (54%) of the overall population growth in the US since 2000.

They're also a major contributor to American culture. 

Barbecue sauce, several state names, cowboy culture, and the US dollar sign have all become pieces of American identity, but have their roots in Hispanic culture. Even Texas chili is older than the Constitution.

Millions of Americans have Hispanic roots, too, and many have made an undeniable impact on the US and the world around them.

In celebration of Hispanic Heritage month, which runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, Global Citizen has put together a list of Hispanic-American changemakers, role models, and heroes who are working toward building a better world.

Like these Global Citizens, you can take action and make a difference.

Take Action:Call Your Member of Congress on Foreign Aid

From education to equal rights, these 7 Hispanic Americans represent what it means to be a Global Citizen:

1/ Albert Baez

Albert Baez immigrated from Mexico to the US with his family when he was still a child. While in graduate school at Stanford University, Albert Baez was one of the co-inventors the X-ray microscope, a new technology in 1948 that allowed scientists and doctors to view living cells.

This invention was a critical step toward modern-day medicine and is still used widely today. It was also useful in the invention of the telescope.

As a pacifist, Baez chose not to follow many of his physics colleagues who went to work for the arms industry during the Cold War. Instead, he continued to research and became a teacher and taught at several universities, including MIT and Baghdad University.

He is also the father of renowned folk singers and activists, Joan Baez and Mimi Farina.

Embed from Getty Images

2/ Demi Lovato

From Disney Channel actress to global pop star, Demi Lovato has used her platform to empower girls and advocate for gender equality. She talks openly about being a feminist, body-shaming and eating disorders, bullying and self worth. The pop star is also an official ambassador for Free the Children, an international and domestic organization that empowers youth to break down barriers preventing them from becoming activists.

Lovato has embraced her Hispanic roots and spoken out about issues related to ethnicity and immigration in the US. Recently, she has worked with organizations to help those affected by President Trump’s decision to end the DACA program.

Read More:Here's Who Is Hosting Global Citizen Festival 2017 in New York City

Embed from Getty Images

3/ Roberto Clemente

Born in Puerto Rico, Roberto Clemente grew up as the son of a sugar farmer and became one of baseball’s greatest stars. He appeared in 15 All-Star Games, and became the first Latin American player to reach 3,000 career hits.

But Clemente’s humanitarian work off the field shone just as bright as his athletic ability. During off-seasons, he organized and donated to charities to bring aid to Puerto Rico and other Latin American countries.

“If you have a chance to help others, and you fail to do so, you’re wasting your time on this Earth,” he famously said.

Clemente died in a tragic plane crash while on his way to deliver supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. The Pittsburgh Pirates started an the annual “Day of Giving” in his honor.

Embed from Getty Images

4/ Nydia Velazquez

Nydia Velazquez found her calling as an activist at an early age. As a teenager in Puerto Rico, she petitioned her school and city to improve the health and sanitation at her local high school and eventually moved to New York to study political science at New York University.

In 1992, she became the first Puerto Rican woman to be elected to serve in Congress, and she later became the first Latina woman to chair a full Congressional committee when she became Chairwoman of the House Small Business Committee. Today, she continues to push for better health services and healthcare for all Americans.

Embed from Getty Images

5/ Jorge Ramos

Known as “The Walter Cronkite of Latino America,” Jorge Ramos’s work in journalism has earned him the title as one of the most influential people in America.

Before his career as a journalist in the States, Ramos published stories critical of  the Mexican government, some of which were censored. At age 24, he emigrated to the US and continued his work, becoming a US citizen in 2008.  He is now a major anchor for the Spanish language station Univision.

Through his reporting, he has been a tireless advocate for Hispanic people’s rights and is leading the way to promote literacy among Hispanic Americans. He created the first book club in the history of Hispanic television, Despierta Leyendo (Wake Up Reading), in 2002 and authored several books, including “A Country for All: An Immigrant Manifesto.”

Read More:Mexico Just Offered to Help DREAMers in a Major Way if the US Deports Them

Embed from Getty Images

6/ Eva Longoria

On the way to becoming one of the highest paid TV actresses for her role in the dramedy, "Desperate Housewives", Eva Longoria dedicated her time and money toward global and efforts to better the planet and people.

Longoria works on behalf of several charities, is the national spokeswoman for Padres Contra El Cancer (a nonprofit organization that helps Latino children with cancer and their families), and founded her own organization (Eva’s Heroes) that offers enrichment opportunities for developmentally challenged youth.

She also has spoken out about anti-immigration policies and helped produce worker-based agricultural documentaries “The Harvest” and “Food Chains.”

Embed from Getty Images

7/ Sophie Cruz

"I have the right to protection. I have the right to live with my parents. I have the right to live without fear. I have the right to be happy,” Sophie told a crowd of 5,000 people in front of the Supreme Court in 2016.

Sophie Cruz is leading a national movement for immigration reform. This month, she will also start second grade. Her parents insist she is not coached by anyone — her words are entirely her own.

Sophie came into the spotlight in 2015 when she slipped through a police line and handed Pope Francis a handwritten letter during his visit to the US. In the letter, she expressed her fears of being deported. She has since given a speech at the Women’s March in January following President Trump’s election and has vocalized her support for DACA.


Demand Equity

7 Hispanic Americans Who Are Making the World A Better Place

By Tess Sohngen  and  Erica Sánchez