Washington, D.C. – Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) announced this week that on November 17, the Senate Rules Committee will hold a hearing on the National Museum of the American Latino Act (S. 1267), which would establish a museum in the Smithsonian Institution dedicated to the preservation and celebration of over 500 years of American Latino history. The bill has bi-partisan support from 45 cosponsors, and companion legislation passed the House of Representatives in July by unanimous consent. The Friends of the American Latino Museum (FRIENDS), the only national advocacy campaign striving for the creation of a Smithsonian National American Latino Museum, urges the Senate to take up and pass this legislation.

“In an unprecedented year of challenges and crisis, we have been moved by the bipartisan support on Capitol Hill for a full accounting of our American history that would include over 500 years of patriotic service, business leadership, and scientific and artistic contributions of the Latino community,” said Estuardo Rodriguez, FRIENDS President and CEO. “We are grateful to Senator Cornyn and Chairman Blunt for prioritizing this bill before the Rules Committee, and we look forward to having the full Senate similarly move the National American Latino Museum Act across the finish line by unanimous consent. Embracing and sharing our nation’s history only serves to inspire and bring us closer together.”

“Latinos have been contributing to the fabric of America from its earliest days; helping to build, shape and defend this great nation from the very beginning—and yet we still don’t see those indispensable stories celebrated and on full display on the National Mall,” said Danny Vargas, chairman of the FRIENDS board. “The broad bi-partisan support for this bill demonstrates just how important this museum is to filling the gaps in our history. This is a red, white and blue, patriotic initiative that will enable every American to benefit from a more complete, accurate and enlightening understanding of the foundational and fundamental role Latinos have played in making the USA what it is today. After passing the House by unanimous consent in July, we urge the Senate to similarly take up and pass the National Museum of the American Latino Act so it can be signed into law and so we can begin to fill in the missing pages in our history books.”

Latino stories are drastically underrepresented in the Smithsonian’s collections—acknowledged by the institution itself in its 1994 Willful Neglect report demonstrating a lack of Latino voices and history so severe, it seemed intentional. This legislation, led in the Senate by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ), acts on the report’s recommendations to move forward in the creation of a Smithsonian National American Latino Museum, a process that follows closely in the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s footsteps. The bill takes an important step towards righting the ongoing disparities in our nation’s museums that remain today.