Friends of the American Latino Museum calls on the Senate to similarly move on and pass companion bill, S.1267

Today, Friends of the American Latino Museum (FRIENDS) announced a victory in its quarter century-long campaign to establish a museum of American Latino history. The House of Representatives approved the National Museum of the American Latino Act (H.R. 2420), legislation to establish the long-overdue museum on the National Mall dedicated to commemorating the 500 plus years of American Latino contributions to the nation’s military, sciences, economic power, civil rights and the arts. 

The bill passed with 295 bipartisan co-sponsors, championed by Representatives José Serrano (D-NY), Will Hurd (R-TX), and Tony Cardenas (D-CA). The bicameral legislation has 29 bipartisan co-sponsors in the Senate, and FRIENDS calls on the Senate to support the passage of S.1267, the accompanying Senate bill for a National Museum of the American Latino.

The concept of a National American Latino Museum was originally proposed in a 1994 Smithsonian report entitled “Willful Neglect”. Since that time only one bill has passed in 2008 that established the creation of a commission to study the viability of such a museum. The latest legislation, the National American Latino Museum Act, now takes the next step to authorize the creation of the museum. 

“Latinos have been contributing to the building, shaping and defending of our nation since before its founding, but these indispensable stories of American history have largely been absent from our magnificent museums on the national mall,” said Danny Vargas, Chairman of the FRIENDS board. “More than ever, every American would benefit from a more complete picture of the history of our great country and all the communities who sacrificed to build her. Now we stand at the precipice of enshrining an enduring institution that will fill the missing pages from our history books and inspire countless future generations to come.”

“With support from Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ), we call on senators from  both sides of the aisle to join us in making history,” said Estuardo Rodriguez, President & CEO of FRIENDS. “Today, we have the highest number of bipartisan co-sponsors since our efforts began in 1994, with 295 in the House and 29 in the Senate. We are grateful to all the partners and allies who helped bring us a step closer to making the American Latino museum a reality, and now seek the leadership of the Senate to get us over the finish line. With growing support from Members of Congress and the American public, the time to act is now.”

“Today’s vote is a monumental step forward for our campaign and community,” said former congresswoman and FRIENDS board member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. “I was proud to introduce the original legislation for a museum as a member of Congress, and I am thrilled today to see my friends and colleagues in the House of Representatives bring that vision even closer to reality.” 

“Today’s vote marks an important moment of progress in recognition of Latino contributions to the history, heritage, and culture of the United States,” said Henry R. Munoz III, Chairman of the bipartisan congressional commission to establish a National Museum of the American Latino. “As we wrote in our report to congress nearly 10 years ago, the Mall, more than any other public space in our country does indeed tell the story of America, and yet that story is not complete. Today we take a step forward as we send this bill to the United States Senate to illuminate the American story for all at a moment when cultural understanding is more important than ever to our country. We look forward to working with the Senate and the administration to add to the Smithsonian’s mission for the increase and diffusion of knowledge for everyone.”  

As acknowledged by the Smithsonian Institution in a 1994 report, Willful Neglect, Latinos are the most underrepresented ethnic group across all of its museums. The National Museum of the American Latino Act will take an important step towards righting the disparities outlined in the report and establish a museum dedicated to representing the history of American Latinos.