First Latino Poet Laureate Announced by the Library of Congress

June 11, 2015

SACRAMENTO – Today, Assemblymember Luis Alejo (D-Salinas), Chair of the California Latino Legislative Caucus, and Vice-Chair Senator Ben Hueso (D-San Diego), issued the following statement regarding the Library of Congress appointing Juan Felipe Herrera, a son of migrant farmworkers, the first Latino Poet Laureate of the United States.

“Today, the Library of Congress made history when they announced the appointment of Juan Felipe Herrera as the nation’s first Latino Poet Laureate,” states Alejo.  “I am proud our nation continues to recognize the positive impacts Latinos have made within various fields and industries.  While many within the Latino community are inspired by his works, they also provide a window into the rich culture and traditions that make-up the Mexican-American identity.”

“Through the power of words, Mr. Herrera’s works have, and will continue to inspire generations of Americans,” states Hueso.  “I commend him for his many achievements, particularly his efforts to encourage more students to express themselves through the arts.”

Juan Felipe Herrera was born in Fowler, California, in 1948, as the son of migrant farm workers.  Like many children of migrant farmworkers, he grew up speaking Spanish and became ashamed to speak at school.  He eventually found his voice through joining choirs in middle school and high school. Herrera eventually graduated from UCLA, earned graduate degrees at Stanford and the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop, and built a career in teaching.

More information on the Poet Laureate and the Poetry and Literature Center can be found at:


Contact: Michelle Reyes / / (916) 319-2030