Almost all major ethnicities in the U.S. have some sort of representation at the Smithsonian Institution except the rich history of what the U.S. Latinos have provided to this country. This is the reason why a group of Latino lawmakers have once again requested that Congress act on the piece of legislation they put together a few years back. The proposed bill calls for the National Museum of the American Latino be created in the Smithsonian’s unused Art and Industries Building in Washington, D.C.
According to the Associated Press, Representative Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) said “the museum is looking for a home for our history, for our culture, for our contributions to this country.” Why should congress pay attention to this bill? In 1994, “Willful Neglect” a Smithsonian study found that Latinos were the only major contributor to American civilization not permanently recognized at the museum complex. This is why according to The Friends of the National Museum of the American Latino mission statement, they are striving 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.
Why should you care? If this bill gets passed, Congress will not be committing any federal dollars to build this museum instead private donations will be needed to make this $325 million price tagged museum come to life. At this moment the friends of the American Latino Museum entails major celebrities such as Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Rosario Dawson, and Eva Longoria who will most likely do the heavy lifting in getting some large donations from their friends and fans.
So how much longer do Latinos have to wait until they get their own museum? It might take a few months until we hear from Congress in regards to their decision and if this museum were to mimic the timeline of the National Museum of African American History and Culture then it will take close to ten years until the museum is up and running. Although it will take a while, it will be a historical moment when thousands of Latinos will travel to our nation’s capital, walk through the National Mall and see the beautiful museum doors open with so much information about our impact within the music industry, agriculture, film & art, social media, architecture, journalism, culinary and much more.
By Being Latino Contributor, Ana Serafin