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Congress Approves 2 New Museums, 1 Honors American Latinos

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

All right, so we should say there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the COVID relief bill, which includes funding for two new museums in Washington, D.C. If it does become a reality, one of those museums will be the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Latino.

NOEL KING, HOST:

This museum is something that Cristela Alonzo has been pushing for. During a trip to Washington, Cristela, who's a comedian and activist, saw a lack of Latino representation in museums.

CRISTELA ALONZO: And I hate it because I know we've done more than that. So much that we see about the Latino community in the media is depicted by news stories. But we don't have enough stories that just tell you basic facts of what we've contributed to this country.

GREENE: Last year, Senator Bob Menendez co-sponsored a bill to create the museum. That legislation quickly received bipartisan support.

BOB MENENDEZ: We have often faced the sting of discrimination. And being able to tell the story, I think, creates a whole different perspective for American society - not just for Latino children who walk through the museum, but for all children to understand that their neighbors, friends and school chums are actually part of a long history in America.

KING: It will likely take years before this museum opens. But Cristela Alonzo hopes that the contributions of the Bracero program are recognized. That was the agreement that allowed Mexicans to work in the U.S. during World War II.

ALONZO: This country survived and got by because of certain people, certain communities that some people think might be the problem, when, in fact, we were the solution.

GREENE: Congress also approved a museum dedicated to women's history. And the Smithsonian Institution says it looks forward to building both.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.