Campaign Launched to Pass the Smithsonian American Latino Museum Act and #BuildMuseumsNotWalls
(Washington, DC)- Today, Friends of the National American Latino Museum, the only organization dedicated to the creation of a National Smithsonian American Latino Museum on the National Mall, launches #BuildMuseumsNotWalls, a campaign to push for the passage of the Smithsonian American Latino Museum Act (H.R. 6001/S. 3314), which would designate the Arts and Industries Building as the future home of the National Museum of the American Latino. The campaign begins on the first day of Hispanic Heritage Month 2016, 22 years after the Smithsonian Institution first recommended the museum be built.
The absence of a permanent, federal monument dedicated to the American Latino experience amounts to more than disappointing congressional inaction. With every passing year that Congress refuses to pass the bill, 60 million Americans—whose rich history spans more than 500 years—are left out of the national story. With this year’s important opening of the National Museum for African American History and Culture, Latinos’ absence in the federal monuments to our country’s history is even more stark. Considering our current political climate, where the Latino community is regularly the target of hateful and divisive rhetoric, it’s more important than ever that we build museums, not walls. The campaign launches at the start of the Hispanic Heritage Month 2016, 22 years after the Smithsonian Institution itself admitted there was a problem with Latino inclusion. In 1994, the Smithsonian published the report “Willful Neglect,” which recognized its failure to adequately represent the Latino community in its presentation of American culture and history, recommended creating a National American Latino Museum as a step towards righting this wrong. Since that report, Congress has had multiple opportunities to give Latinos their due: in 2011, "To Illuminate the American Story for All,” a report issued to Congress by a national commission that underscored the continuing need for a museum. That document highlighted the Arts and Industries Building as a potential location—and that building is now the last available space on our National Mall.
“Five years after the National Museum of the American Latino Museum Commission presented its report to Congress and the White House, we still have not moved forward on the next critical piece of legislation,” said Estuardo Rodriguez, Executive Director of Friends of the National Museum of the American Latino. “A community that has served, sacrificed, and created for this country generation after generation deserves progress on a campaign that will cement its role in U.S. history. During an election where one candidate continues to insult and tarnish the reputation of an entire community, it is more important than ever that our true history be told. We are proud to help set the record straight on the contributions made by Latinos and Latinas. We launch today our campaign ‘Build Museums Not Walls’ to activate our community, pass this legislation, push back on the false rhetoric and insults and set the record straight."
The month-long campaign will include an online petition (bit.ly/latinomuseum), digital mobilization of the American Latino community, and personal storytelling from Latino celebrities and cultural influencers. Friends of the National Museum of the American Latino will also convene culture and thought-leaders from across the country on October 6 at the American Latino Influencer Awards in Los Angeles.
The Friends of the National Museum of the American Latino 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. http://americanlatinomuseum.org/