Obama awards two Latinos with National Humanities Medals

On Monday, President Obama awarded eight National Medal of Arts and nine National Humanities Medals, the country’s highest honors for Arts and Humanities. Along with poets and famous actors, like Al Pacino, two Latino scholars were rewarded for their efforts.

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Teófilo Ruiz and Ramón Saldívar, both professors at universities in California, were recognized for their extensive contributions to their individual fields of study. Ruiz, 69, teaches at UCLA and has published over 13 books on medieval Spain. Saldívar, an instructor at Stanford, has made groundbreaking strides in exploring Chicano literature.

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"We have to study, care about the humanities and sciences, and demonstrate that this country belongs to us as well," Ruiz told The Associated Press.

At the ceremony, which took place in the White House, Obama also urged the honorees to act as mentors to the next generation of artists and scholars in order to better equip them for their role in the nation’s future.  

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Wow! I have to say, this is an amazing accomplishment for us Latinos. At a time when arts often come second to science, engineering, and business, it’s heartening to see academics, poets, musicians and others in similar fields being rewarded for their work. And for two Latinos to be nationally (!!) recognized by Obama himself is even more inspirational, especially when you think about the fact that only nine humanities medals were awarded. Who knows what the Hispanic community will achieve next? One thing’s for sure: the sky’s the limit. 

 What do you think about the honorees? Do their awards mark an important accomplishment for the Latino community?

Image via AP, Stanford University