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Latino stars lend support to Smithsonian American Latino Museum Act

By Kevin Milliken for La Prensa

Some Latino star power will lead the effort to establish the Smithsonian American Latino Museum on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Actress Eva Longoria and recording artist Emilio Estefan have agreed to take leadership roles in a national campaign launched by the Friends of the National Museum of the American Latino in support of passage of federal legislation to establish the national museum.


The pair of Latino entertainers also served as former commissioners of the National Museum of the American Latino Commission, a bipartisan body appointed by both the President and Congress in 2008. They have become strong advocates for the creation of the museum and have committed themselves to working to move the bill forward.


“This bill is an integral first step toward ensuring the numerous Latino contributions to American history are reflected in our federal institutions,” said Ms. Longoria. “I look forward to the day when future generations of American Latinos will visit this museum and learn about the influential impact their families have had on American history and culture.”


“We must act quickly and encourage Congress to work together to pass this bipartisan bill,” said Estefan in a statement. “My work with the commission revealed that community members nationwide are eager for a museum to educate the people about the Latino community. It is time to do what is right and secure a location for the future Smithsonian American Latino Museum.”

The legislation will officially designate the historic Arts and Industries Building on the National Mall as the site for the future Smithsonian American Latino Museum. The bill also encourages the start of fundraising from private sources. The Arts and Industries building was one of the top recommended sites for the future museum in the commission’s final report released last spring.


The legislation was introduced in the Senate and House of Representatives in mid-November by U.S. Senator Robert Menéndez (D-NJ), Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), U.S. Representative Xavier Becerra (D-CA) and U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL).


Despite 15 Senators already signed up as co-sponsors, much work remains to be done on both sides of the aisle to move the project forward during a sustained economic recession. Just as their roles were important on the museum commission, Ms. Longoria and Estefan’s continued leadership will be critical in raising the visibility and importance of the museum before members of Congress and the rest of the nation.


Eva Longoria


Museum commission chairman Henry R. Muñoz III made a strong case for the Latino facility in a letter contained in the final report to Congress and the president.


“The time has come for the creation of a new museum on the National Mall, the place where our nation’s most important monuments are located,” Muñoz wrote. “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. There must also be a living monument that recognizes that Latinos were here well before 1776 and that in this new century, the future is increasingly Latino, more than 50 million people and growing.”


The museum commission chairman advocated for a center that is “not only as a monument for Latinos, but as a 21st Century learning laboratory rooted in the mission that every American should have access to the stories of all Americans.” He called it a time in U.S. history when “cultural understanding could not be more important to the enduring strength of our democratic ideals.”


Muñoz questioned why the Smithsonian Institution, a museum that serves “as the principal repository of our nation’s collective memory, achievements, research and cultural identity,” has been challenged by the “lack of representation, resources, artifact, exhibitions and programming that reflect Latino contributions to our country’s development.”


“We applaud the Smithsonian Institution’s desire to imagine itself as a place that more fully reflects the diversity and depth of American civilization and values in all its multicultural beauty, by joining this noble effort,” he wrote.


Friends of the National Museum of the American Latino, Inc. is a non-profit organization based in the nation’s capital, which strives to create a national museum 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.


Anyone who wants more information about the project or to contribute to the effort to establish the museum can visit www.americanlatinomuseum.org.



Copyright © 1989 to 2011 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 12/13/11 12:54:23 -0800.





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