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House passes bill to make a Smithsonian Latino Museum, after top Latino leaders make a stand

Congress is now one step closer to telling the stories, history and culture of the American Latino at the National Mall.

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A place where visitors can learn about American Latino history is now one step closer to becoming a reality.

The National Museum of the American Latino Act has passed the U.S. House of Representatives, which would establish a Smithsonian National Museum on Latino history on the National Mall in Washington D.C.

The National Mall is dedicated to honoring the contributions of Americans throughout history, but it is missing an integral piece: Latino Americans.

There is already the National Museum of African American History, as well as the Culture and National Museum of the American Indians.

First introduced last year by Rep. José Serrano (D-NY-15) and Rep Will Hurd (R-TX-23), the bill (H.R. 2420) passed unanimously, in the first time a bill of its kind has passed the House.

“Today, we reached an important milestone for the Hispanic community with passage of this legislation. After nearly 20 years of work, the National Museum of the American Latino Act was finally considered and approved with overwhelming bipartisan support,” wrote Serrano in a statement issued after the bill’s passing.
 

The idea of a national museum dedicated to the Latino experience in America, which reflects the nation’s diverse and growing Latino community has been in the works since 2003, when former Rep. Leana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Rep Xavier Becerra (D-CA) began the legislative process.

Since then, the Latino museum project has long been backed by multiple Latino leaders, including Rita Moreno, Chita Rivera, Eva Longoria, and current members of Congress.

The bill would establish a Board of Trustees to help guide the Smithsonian’s creation of the Latino museum, authorizing a 50% federal match to privately raised dollars for design and construction costs.

It would also authorize grants to strengthen and develop American Latino Museums around the country, assisting students interested in pursuing degrees in the Latino history, arts and culture. 

“Latino stories are American Stories. Latino history is an integral part of our nation’s past, present and future,” wrote Rep. Nanette D. Barragan (D-CA). 

“It’s time for our stories to be told in our nation’s capital. A Smithsonian Latino Museum on the National Mall is a powerful step in commemorating our history.” she continued.
 

“The Latinos story is an American story. It’s way past time for a Smithsonian Latino Museum where our stories can be told,” wrote Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX) on Twitter.

“I’m proud to support these efforts to establish a Latino Museum on our National Mall porque la historia latina es historia Americana.” Garcia finished. 

 

An idea in the making for decades, this is the first time the bill to make a Smithsonian Latino Museum has passed either body in Congress. Now the Senate must finish the job and pass it.

With its bi-partisan support, there is optimism of the Bill passing in the Republican-controlled Senate.

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