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National Museum of the American Latino Commissioners Send Letter to Congress Urging the Designation of a Smithsonian American Latino Museum on the National Mall

Washington, D.C. – This year marks 5 years since the National Museum of the American Latino Commission presented its report to the President and Congress recommending the creation of a Smithsonian American Latino Museum on the National Mall. To mark the anniversary and encourage action, 21 Commissioners sent a letter to Congressional leadership in both chambers demanding action.

The letter to the Senate and House leadership (here and here) outlines the importance of a museum that will finally tell the full story of American history. American Latinos and their contributions are some of the most underrepresented in all of the Smithsonian Institution. The Smithsonian itself admitted that it has left Latinos out in its 1994 “Willful Neglect” report, and that report recommended the creation of a National American Latino Museum to right this wrong. More than 2 decades later, we are still waiting for that museum.

“As we prepare to celebrate the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture this fall, we are reminded that this initiative unjustifiably took more than 80 years to come to fruition,” said Cid Wilson, chair of the board for Friends of the American Latino Museum and Commissioner. “This museum opening also highlights Congress’ decision that no more new construction is permitted on the National Mall. This leaves one available space on the National Mall, the Arts & Industries Building, and that building must be the future home of the Smithsonian American Latino Museum.”

“Each year, over 24 million school children, researchers, international visitors and more come to the National Mall to learn the wondrous story of America. That’s why it is known as the nation’s front yard,” said Andrés W. Lopéz, Commissioner. “Now that the Smithsonian has begun to reopen the Arts & Industries building for temporary exhibits and events, Congress must designate the building as the future, permanent home of the Smithsonian American Latino Museum right away. We must ensure this building is held for this purpose as the initial first step toward the creation of this long overdue museum.”

This letter to Congress will be the first step in an advocacy campaign aligned with the 2016 Hispanic Heritage Month commemorative events. The Friends of the American Latino Museum, the only organization exclusively dedicated to this cause, will lead a series of activities to honor American Latino contributions and increase the public pressure on Congress to secure our home on the National Mall. These events include a #BuildMuseumsNotWalls social media campaign, the 3rd annual American Latino Influencer Awards, and the Hispanic Heritage Awards hosted by the Hispanic Heritage Foundation.

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.


Mia Jacobs