By Leonard Rodriguez

This column highlights inspiring stories of Latino leaders. For more than 500 years, Latino men and women have positively influenced the face of United States society. Let us celebrate these outstanding hispanics.

Joseph M. Montoya
At age 21, Joseph M. Montoya became the youngest member of New Mexico’s House of Representatives. Rising quickly through the ranks, he was elected to the U.S Congress in 1957 and, in 1964, filled the late Senator Dennis Chavez’s seat.

Senator Montoya was a proponent of civil rights and was committed to preserving the cultural, linguistic and ethnic heritage of Latinos. He worked to pass laws to end discrimination and improve Hispanics’ quality of life. Af- ter 21 years in congress, Sen- ator Montoya passed away in 1978.

He was nationally known for investigating Wa- tergate and is remembered for his Bilingual Education Act of 1968 and legislation that created National Hispanic Heritage Month.