Governor Pat Quinn begins a month-long celebration of Latino Heritage today by launching a website which includes a salute to a different Latino "Trailblazer of the Day" each day from now until October 13. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Illinois is home to more than two million Latinos. This action is a part of Governor Quinn's commitment to ensuring that Illinois is the most welcoming state in the nation.
"Latinos have made important contributions to enriching this state and this country, and during Latino Heritage Month it is important we honor those achievements," Governor Quinn said. "I invite everyone to take a minute each day to visit our website and learn about a different Latino Trailblazer."
Today's lift-off celebrates the accomplishments of Ellen Ochoa -- the first Latina in space -- and other Latino astronauts. Upcoming profiles include Illinois' first Latino Medal of Honor Awardee, "Latinos on the Gridiron" and Illinois Latino writers.
The Governor's website -- latinoheritage.illinois.gov -- also outlines the "Changing Face of Illinois Latinos", offers a sketch of each Latino group's history in Illinois, details the Governor's successful trade missions to Mexico and Brazil, and explains the many services provided by the Governor's Office of New Americans.
Governor Quinn will also host an exhibit in the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago from Monday, Oct. 7 through Friday, Oct. 11: Saluting Latino Inventors, Scientists and Innovators. The free display profiles a dozen Latinos who made a difference, such as the inventor of the ballpoint pen and a doctor who has devoted his life to eradicating leprosy.
Illinois' Latino community has been a key focus for Governor Quinn since taking office. In 2011, Governor Quinn signed the Illinois DREAM Act, which increases education opportunities to children of immigrants in Illinois. He has also signed legislation ensure sure that all immigrants are able to have a valid driver's license and to boost minority participation in state construction projects. The Governor has also more than doubled the number of Welcoming Centers, which provide a wide range of services to newcomers.