CHICAGO | Creators of the ballpoint pen, hydrogen battery and “victory lap” are just a few of the Latino “Inventors, Innovators and Trailblazers” being celebrated by Gov. Pat Quinn in an exhibit that opened Monday in the James R. Thompson Center, 100 W. Randolph St.
As part of Quinn’s celebration of Latino Heritage Month, a dozen Latino inventors are profiled, from José Labandera – the 19th century Ecuadorian sailor who built the first successful submarine – to Dr. Luis Von Ahn, a 34-year old Guatemalan mathematician who created CAPTCHA, the twisted letters seen on computer screens which users must retype to prove they’re human.
“I invite everyone in Illinois to view this colorful exhibit — either in the Thompson Center or online — to better appreciate the rich contributions made by Latino innovators,” Quinn said. “These are everyday people who truly made a difference, such as Carlos Finlay who found the link between mosquitoes and yellow fever, or Ileana Sánchez, whose Braille art books enable visually impaired people to ‘see’ great masterpieces.”
Quinn was joined by consuls general from Latin American nations who helped the governor transform the Thompson Center atrium into a “Hall of Flags," featuring the flags of 16 Latin American nations.
The governor’s exhibit — on display for one week — also salutes 30 “Latino Trailblazers," ranging from the first Latino Chicago Bear to Irma Ruíz, the first Illinois Latina police officer killed in the line of duty. Visitors may also learn about the “Changing Face of Illinois Latinos,” Quinn’s trade missions to Mexico and Brazil, and why the amazing Monarch butterfly became Illinois’ official state insect.
The exhibit features information about the Governor’s Office of New Americans and its six “Welcoming Centers” which help ease the integration of immigrants by providing dozens of services. Quinn has vowed to make Illinois the most “immigrant-friendly state in the nation.” There are now more than 2 million Latinos in Illinois, about one in six people. For the first time, a majority of Illinois Latinos live outside of Chicago, with fast-growing populations in places such as Kane County and downstate Beardstown.
For more information on Quinn’s celebration of Latino Heritage Month, visit LatinoHeritage.Illinois.gov.