(Washington, DC) Today, Friends of the American Latino Museum (FRIENDS) announced that nearly 100 organizations have signed on as official partners of the campaign. Groups represent powerful community organizations and advocacy groups that reach beyond legacy Latino coalitions, representing a broad scope of sectors. Partners include: labor movement leaders AFL-CIO, American Federation of Teachers, and Farmworker Justice; conservative voices the LIBRE Initiative, Hispanic 100, and the Latino Coalition; civil rights advocates the National Urban League, NAACP, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Muslim Public Affairs Council, and Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF); as well as business sector organizations including the United States Hispanic Chamber of Congress and Minority Business Roundtable.
By signing on to the campaign (which has seen deep public support for more than a decade), partners add their voices to the call for a Smithsonian National American Latino Museum to join the iconic Smithsonian institutions lining the National Mall. “We are honored to see such a distinguished and diverse coalition of national partners come together in order to ensure that our nation’s history is inclusive of the 500 years of U.S. Latino history that sits at the core of our founding,” stated Estuardo Rodriguez, executive director of FRIENDS.
In June, a bipartisan coalition in both the Senate and House introduced the National Museum of the American Latino Act with -sponsors: Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27), Rep. Jose Serrano (NY-15), Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), Rep. Will Hurd (TX-23), and Rep. Tony Cárdenas (CA-29). The bill advances the legislative effort that began in 2003 when Rep. Ros-Lehtinen and then-Representative Xavier Becerra introduced the first bill to secure a location on the National Mall for the site.
“The values that drive us every day at Hispanic Federation—inclusion, justice, and diversity—are values that drive all Americans” said José Calderón, Hispanic Federation President. “We know that when we empower and advance Latino communities, we empower and advance communities across this country. That is why we are proud to be part of this campaign, and why it’s so important a Smithsonian American Latino Museum to be built. It’s past time for our Latino families—our American families—to be represented among our national monuments.”
“An American Latino Museum would rightfully acknowledge the history and legacy of a community that is among the most valued and productive in our nation’s history whose contributions form an integral part of our American heritage and continue to shape its present and future,” said Marc Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League. “It would tell the story of generations of Hispanic Americans who helped build this nation through timeless traditions of service, honor, innovation, and leadership. And it would provide a platform to showcase the American experience of Hispanic Americans, whose collective story and identity, like that of all Americans, is tied to the principles of freedom, democracy, and equality this country was founded on.”
“Rice University is honored to be part of this worthy campaign. We believe that diversity and inclusion and the preservation of the Latino culture is vital to the success of this country,” said David Medina, director of Multicultural Community Relations in Public Affairs at Rice University.
“Latinos are a foundational pillar of the American economy,” said Dr. Laura Murillo, President and CEO of the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “Hispanic communities built St. Augustine, the oldest city in the United States, in the 16th century. The back-breaking work and activism of Braceros, immigrants encouraged to come to this country on work permits in the 1940s-1960s, helped pave the way for fair labor standards in this country. Hispanic entrepreneurs helped keep the American economy alive during last decade’s recession and started a quarter of all new American businesses in 2014. These contributions and countless others deserve to be celebrated and memorialized among our federal monuments on the National Mall. That is why we are proud to partner with FRIENDS to make a Smithsonian museum for American Latinos a reality.”
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. https://americanlatinomuseum.org/