Lawmakers argue for national Latino museum

Lawmakers argue for national Latino museum
© Greg Nash

Lawmakers and advocates spoke in favor of a creation of a National Museum of the American Latino on Wednesday. 

Civil rights icon Dolores Huerta and Reps. Joaquin CastroJoaquin CastroLawmakers of color urge Democratic leadership to protect underserved communities in coronavirus talks This week: Congress set for bipartisan coronavirus talks as clock ticks Sherman joins race for House Foreign Affairs gavel MORE (D-Texas) and José Serrano (D-N.Y.) testified in favor of the legislation in favor the museum at a Natural Resources subcommittee hearing

“We need to have this Latino museum as soon as possible, especially ... of all of the terrible attacks that have been relayed against our Latino community,” Huerta said.  “If can have a Latino museum we can really put on display what the contributions are of Latinos in this country.”

“Our stories, our experiences, our contributions have often been erased and left out,” said Castro. “We can change that by establishing a National Museum of the American Latino.”

Later, Huerta, Sen. Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoOcasio-Cortez to speak at Democratic convention Senate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump signs major conservation bill into law | Senate votes to confirm Energy's No. 2 official | Trump Jr. expresses opposition to Pebble Mine project MORE (D-Nev.) and Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.) participated in a Capitol Hill press conference promoting the museum. 

“The Latinos in the United States of America have always been a positive force for this great nation and for the world,” Cárdenas said. “Without a Latino museum, that memory, that history that reality, that truth will not be realized in the hearts and minds of the Latino community, of the American community and the people of the world.”

Cortez Masto also said that it was important to recognize Latino contributions to the U.S. 

“Our children and our children’s children, our grandchildren, if they were to go to that museum and see people who look like them and learn the sacrifices that we have made ... how proud they would be, so that’s what this is about,” she said.

Rep. Jenniffer González Colón (R), a nonvoting congresswoman who represents Puerto Rico, also participated in the press conference. 

Bipartisan lawmakers have for years promoted legislation in favor of such a museum. The current legislation has 191 Democratic and 27 Republican co-sponsors in the House and 18 Democratic and six Republican co-sponsors in the Senate

The project has been around for decades. In 1993, the Smithsonian Institution formed a Latino issues task force, and it found the group's museums “almost entirely” left out the U.S.  Latino population. 

Other planned museums have also taken a long time to be built. Early plans for an African American museum go back to the 1920s, and serious consideration began in the 1970s. That museum opened on the National Mall in 2016.