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Former American Latino Museum Commissioners and FRIENDS Board Meet with Congressional Leadership, Call for Passage of Smithsonian American Latino Museum Act

Bipartisan Leaders Met With Museum Advocates, including Senator Harry Reid, Congressmen Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

Washington, D.C. - Today, the Friends of the American Latino Museum (FRIENDS) board of directors and Commissioners from the Commission to Study the Potential Creation of a National Museum of the American Latino wrapped up 2 days of advocacy and action on Capitol Hill. The national leaders of the campaign commemorated the 3-year anniversary of the Commission report by urging Congress to secure the Arts & Industries Building as the future home of the museum through passage of the Smithsonian American Latino Museum Act (S.568/H.R. 1217). 

The Commission report presented to the President and Congress on May 5, 2011 was a proud bipartisan achievement that was both ahead of schedule and under budget. That report found that a Smithsonian American Latino Museum is needed to complete the telling of our American history across our national institutions because the U.S. Latino story is integral to the story of our founding and our continued success as a nation. The report recommended that this museum be located on the National Mall because as the nation’s front yard, the American Latino story would take its rightful place among the other landmark Smithsonian institutions.

“It is time for Congress to pass the Smithsonian American Latino Museum Act. This bill not only secures our location in the Arts & Industries Building on the National Mall, but sends a strong message to the nation that U.S. Latino history is part of our American fabric and must receive the recognition and prominent placement it deserves,” said Cid Wilson, board chair of FRIENDS.

The national leaders of the campaign which include representatives from Silicon Valley, national political strategists and academic and museum experts met with members of Congress including Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV); Senator Dean Heller (R-NV); Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, Xavier Becerra (D-CA-34); Chair of the Asian Pacific American Caucus, Judy Chu (D-CA-27); bill cosponsor, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL-27); Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Conference, Mario Diaz Balart (R-FL-25); and Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA-03). The group also met with the leadership offices of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA12), House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA-23), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

“Our day of advocacy and education has added key Congressional support for our bill which will bring us closer to telling the complete American story in our national institutions,” said Estuardo Rodriguez, Executive Director of FRIENDS. “The pending legislation has no funding associated with it whatsoever, in fact it allows for research into a fundraising and construction plan. So only after this legislation is passed can we begin to confirm the private financial support that will be needed.”

FRIENDS will continue to mobilize its network of almost 400,000 online supporters through facebook, twitter, and email in the campaign to honor American Latino contributions with a long overdue national museum.

Friends of the National Museum of the American Latino (www.americanlatinomuseum.org) Friends of the National Museum of the American Latino, Inc., a 501(c)(3) incorporated in Washington, D.C., strives to create a museum in our nation’s capital to educate, inspire and encourage respect and understanding of the richness and diversity of the American Latino experience within the U.S. and its territories by highlighting the contributions made by Latino leaders, pioneers and communities to the American way of life.


Francella Chinchilla: (202) 587-4944