Today is historic!

By Henry R. Muñoz III on 11/15/2011 @ 11:26 AM

Henry R. Muñoz III, Chairman

Today is historic. The bi-partisan legislation authored by Senator Robert Menendez, Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senator Marco Rubio, moves us closer to the day when the contributions of Latinos to every aspect of American History and Culture are celebrated on our National Mall.

As Chairman of the Commission to study the feasability of a National Museum of the American Latino , indeed as one of the more than Fifty Million United States citizens of Latino Heritage, I want to thank Senator Menendez, Majority Leader Reid,and Senator Rubio for their leadership and belief in the importance of establishing the Smithsonian American Latino Museum, to illumnate the American Story for all.

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Salazar endorses Latino museum plan

Posted on 05/05/2011 @ 11:00 AM

Ken Salazar, Interior Secretary

WASHINGTON (AP) — Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is endorsing a federal commission's call to build a national museum devoted to American Latino art, history and culture next to the Capitol as part of the Smithsonian Institution.

In an interview with The Associated Press ahead of the commission's report Thursday, Salazar said he would urge Congress to approve creation of the museum. He said such a building on the Capitol's grounds would be in keeping with the National Park Service's plan for the National Mall, which calls for overhauling the nearby Capitol reflecting pool as a civic square.

Many contributions of the nation's Latinos, dating back to before the nation's founding, have never been recognized, and they deserve a space on the National Mall among the nation's top cultural attractions, Salazar said.

"My own view is America's strength in the future is dependent upon America being inclusive of all of its people," he said. "In the United States today, we have about 50 million-plus Americans who are of Latino descent."

A copy of the commission's report obtained by the AP said the museum would represent Latinos where their heritage has been absent at the Smithsonian.

"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," wrote commission chairman Henry R. Munoz III.

A 1994 Smithsonian report entitled "Willful Neglect" found U.S. Hispanics were the only major contributor to American civilization not permanently recognized at the museum complex.

The Latino museum would join the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian and its planned National Museum of African American History and Culture, slated to open in four years. There has been some hesitance in Congress to add more ethnic museums for fear that they could appeal to segregated audiences.

The commission tried to head off such arguments from the start.

"This is not a museum for Latinos. This is a museum that more fully describes what the American story is," Munoz said in an interview. "The historical myth of the United States begins with 1776 and the Mayflower, totally ignoring the fact that we were here well before then and have been contributors to the development of this country in every single way."

Munoz said he envisions a lively, interactive space with performances and perhaps a plaza that allows programs to spill out onto the Capitol grounds.

The commission voted unanimously to recommend the Capitol site over others. It would fall outside an area where Congress has banned any new construction on the mall, officials said.

The report lays out a case for retracing 500 years of Latino history with roots in Europe, Africa, Asia and from indigenous people. It notes Spanish explorers were first to land in Florida decades before English settlers founded Jamestown, and they created outposts that eventually led to the founding of San Francisco and Santa Fe, N.M. It details Latinos' contributions to the military, the economy and the arts.

At the same time, many groups want to add museums on the National Mall, including efforts to recognize women's history, gay history and the history of immigration.

"The history of all peoples has got to be told across America," Salazar said, but the Latino museum proposal was a "definitive plan that addresses the history of 1/6 of the population," he said.

"We can't deal with the whole world right now, but I think the time is now to do something like this."

Federal budget constraints could be the biggest hurdle. The commission's report calls for building a $600 million museum with Congress providing half the funds and private donations covering the remainder.

Salazar, one of the highest ranking Hispanics in government, pledged to help raise millions of dollars to privately fund the museum's construction — and, if necessary, more than half the cost. He previously advocated for the project as a U.S. Senator.

President George W. Bush signed legislation establishing the Latino museum commission in 2008, and President Barack Obama, along with congressional leaders, appointed a 23-member commission. It includes Eva Longoria from TV's "Desperate Housewives," producer Emilio Estefan and others for their expertise in museums, fundraising and Latino culture.

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Download the National American Latino Museum Report

Posted on 05/05/2011 @ 08:41 AM

Be the first to download the National Museum of the American Latino’s historic report which clearly outlines the need for a Latino museum. Please sign up and register to receive a copy of this comprehensive study on the American Latino, and invite your friends to do the same. Please register to join the cause. We need your support to make the findings in this report a reality.

Thank you for your ongoing support of the American Latino museum. We look forward to the implementation of the commission’s recommendations. Please continue to spread the word, and let people know why you have joined our cause.

Click here now to Download the final report to the President and Congress of the United States titled “To Illuminate the American Story for All”.

NALM Report Cover

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To Illuminate the American Story for All

Posted on 05/05/2011 @ 08:33 AM

Henry R. Muñoz III, Chairman

As we prepare to stand before Congress today and respectfully submit our final report on the feasibility of creating a National Museum of the American Latino, to be located on the National Mall in our nation's capital, I would like to take a moment to consider again the questions that we have been pondering and studying since 2009: Should there be a National Museum that reflects the contributions of Latinos to every aspect of American society and culture? Should this proposed museum be part of The Smithsonian, a venerable institution whose mission has always, unwaveringly, been "for the increase and diffusion of knowledge?" The answer is a resounding yes.

Click here now to Download the final report to the President and Congress of the United States titled “To Illuminate the American Story for All”.

For two years we have studied what the museum might look like and researched what Latinos would like to see in such a museum. We applaud the Smithsonian'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 us in the noble effort. It is our belief, as the report will show, that there must 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 fifty million people and growing. The Smithsonian Institution American Latino Museum will serve not only as a monument for Latinos and a testament to our important contributions to American history and culture, but also as a 21st Century learning laboratory rooted in the mission that every American should have access to the stories of all Americans.

I would like to thank my fellow members of the National Museum of the American Latino Commission, and especially the thousands of American citizens, in communities across the country, who have worked so ceaselessly, enthusiastically, and tirelessly with us over the last few years. With your continued support our dream of creating The Smithsonian American Latino Museum in Washington, D.C. will soon become a reality.

With much gratitude,

Henry R. Munoz III Chairman

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New American Latino Museum Video

Posted on 05/05/2011 @ 07:54 AM

The Commission has released a new video about the National Museum of the American Latino. Eva Longoria shares the story of the Commission’s hard work over the past year, and chronicles the Commission’s outreach to Latinos across the nation. Before you read the report tomorrow, please share this video with your friends, and let them know why you support the American Latino Museum.

To view this video, you will need to install the Flash Player.

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Rita Moreno - Actress

Posted on 04/28/2011 @ 12:43 PM

Rita Moreno

Rita Moreno is a Puerto Rican singer, dancer and actress. She is the first and only Hispanic person and one of the few performers who have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony and at the time the second Puerto Rican to win an Academy Award.

Moreno was born Rosa Dolores Alverío in Humacao, Puerto Rico, to Rosa María, a seamstress, and Paco Alverío, a farmer. She moved with her mother to New York City at the age of five. She began her first dancing lessons soon after arriving in the United States from a friend of her mother, a Spanish dancer called Paco Cansino, who was the uncle of Rita Hayworth. When she was 11 years old, she lent her voice to Spanish language versions of American films.

She had her first Broadway role — as "Angelina" in Skydrift — by the time she was 13, which caught the attention of Hollywood talent scouts. She appeared in small roles in The Toast of New Orleans and Singin' in the Rain, in which she played Zelda Zanners. In 1956, she had a supporting role in the film version of The King and I as Tuptim.

In 1961, Moreno landed the role of Anita in Robert Wise's and Jerome Robbins' film adaptation of Leonard Bernstein's and Stephen Sondheim's groundbreaking Broadway musical, West Side Story, which was played by Chita Rivera on Broadway. Moreno won the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for that role. Moreno went on to be the first actress (and the first Hispanic) to win an Emmy (1977), a Grammy (1972), an Oscar (1962) and a Tony (1975).

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Jesse Treviño – Master Artist

Posted on 04/27/2011 @ 03:53 PM

Jesse Trevino

Jesse Treviño was a year into art school on a scholarship at the Art Students League of New York when a letter from Uncle Sam arrived in the mail, informing the then- 19-year-old native of San Antonio's West Side that he would be going to Vietnam.

Two months later, on Feb. 23, 1967, an explosion from a booby trap knocked him face down into a rice paddy. Treviño watched the muddy water turn red as he lay dying. As a medic's morphine began flowing through his veins, the soldier had visions of his mom, 11 brothers and sisters, and the people and places of his neighborhood that he loved so much.

"I started thinking about the guy who sells raspas, and I said to myself, 'I bet I could make a great painting of him,' " Treviño said, "and I started thinking about all the paintings that I had done as a kid and still wanted to do. Here I was in the middle of this rice field, and I was thinking as an artist."

Treviño returned to San Antonio, but soon began to lose movement in his right arm and hand. Two years later, his arm had to be amputated because of extensive nerve damage.

"I had to learn to use my left hand," he said. "Having been in New York and studying art on a scholarship and then getting to the point where I couldn't even write my name, it was hard. I felt disconnected from what I used to do." After receiving a bachelor's degree at Our Lady of the Lake University, Treviño enrolled in UTSA's graduate art program.

Today, Treviño, 63, is among the university's list of distinguished alumni. His work is well known and revered throughout the city, notably Spirit of Healing, a ceramic tile mural of a guardian angel and child on the façade of Christus Santa Rosa Children's Hospital, as well as the towering sculpture Our Lady of Guadalupe Veladora at the Guadalupe Theater in his neighborhood.

Two of his other works— Mis Hermanos and Tienda de Elizondo—are part of the permanent collection of the Smithsonian's American Art Museum in Washington, D.C.

"It means everything to me," the artist said. "Ever since I was a kid, I knew what museums were, and it was the ultimate place to have your works shown if you were an artist."

Arturo Almeida, art specialist and curator for the UTSA Art Collection, said Treviño is one of the most admired artists around the Alamo City. "His work profoundly captures all the grace and poetry of his community," he said.

Treviño recently collaborated with architect Gabriel Velasquez on the design of a 130-foot steel Hispanic Veterans Memorial sculpture to be erected in the middle of Lake Elmendorf on the West Side. The work, which is expected to be completed in about a year and a half, will feature gigantic dog tags representing various branches of the military.

"It will be a monument to honor all veterans, alive or dead. It's a structure, too, that people wouldn't expect to see on the West Side, and it's something people will come to see from all around the country," Treviño said. Treviño once thought he had to travel to New York or California to find his place in the world. Now, he just looks around the backyard of his home/studio on Guadalupe Street on his beloved West Side.

There's a 5,000-pound, steel-and-concrete, two-sided bench commemorating former City Councilman Enrique Barrera that's still in the works. Next to it is a sculpture of the Virgen de Guadalupe and a wall fountain with the soothing sound of trickling water, surrounded by trees, plants and artwork.

By Rudy Arispe

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Jim Plunkett, Football Champion

Posted on 04/25/2011 @ 06:06 PM

Jim Plunkett

James William "Jim" Plunkett (born December 5, 1947 in San Jose, California) is a former American football quarterback who played college football for Stanford University, where he won the Heisman Trophy, and professionally for three National Football League teams: the New England Patriots, San Francisco 49ers and Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders. He led the Raiders to two Super Bowl victories (XV and XVIII). He is the only eligible quarterback to start (and win) two Super Bowls without being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

Plunkett was born to Mexican American parents with an Irish-German great-grandfather on his paternal side. Plunkett's father was a news vendor afflicted with progressive blindness, who had to support his blind wife along with their three children. In an effort to aid the family's financial situation, Plunkett worked a series of odd jobs while growing up, including serving as a gas station attendant, grocery store clerk and as a laborer on construction sites. In an acknowledgement of his Mexican roots, Plunkett chose the fictional character of Zorro as his hero.

Jim went to William C. Overfelt High School in the 9th and 10th grades and then transferred and graduated from James Lick High School both of which are located in East San Jose, California. Plunkett showed his talent for tossing the football by winning a throwing contest at the age of 14 with a heave of over 60 yards. Once he arrived at the school, he played quarterback and defensive end for the football team, with his athletic ability also helping him compete in basketball, baseball, track and wrestling.

Upon entering Stanford University in , Plunkett endured a rough freshman campaign after being weakened by a thyroid operation. His performance originally caused head coach John Ralston to switch him to defensive end, but Plunkett was adamant in remaining at quarterback, throwing 500 to 1,000 passes every day to polish his arm. He earned the opportunity to start in 1968, and in his first game, completed ten of thirteen passes for 277 yards and four touchdowns, and never relinquished his hold on the starting spot. Plunkett's arrival ushered in an era of wide-open passing, pro-style offenses in the Pac-8, a trend that has continued to the present.

His successful junior campaign saw him set league records for touchdown passes (20), passing yards (2,673) and total offense (2,786). This display of offensive firepower led Washington State coach Jim Sweeney to call Plunkett "The best college football player I've ever seen." After his junior year, Plunkett became eligible to enter the NFL draft, which would have given him a chance to earn a large roster bonus for himself and his mother. He passed up the chance at a paycheck, however, so that he could set a good example to the chicano youth he had tutored. In his senior year,1970, he led Stanford to their first Rose Bowl appearance since 1952, a game that ended with a 27-17 Stanford victory over the favored Ohio State Buckeyes.

With eighteen passing and three rushing touchdowns added to his 2,715 passing yards on the year (which broke his own conference record), Plunkett was awarded the 1970 Heisman Trophy and the pml award given annually to the top college football player in the country. Though he had set so many records on the season, 1970 had been the "Year of the Quarterback," and Plunkett beat out Notre Dame's Joe Theismann and Archie Manning of Ole Miss to win the award. He was the first Latino to win the Heisman Trophy. Aside from the Heisman, he captured the Maxwell Award for the nation's best quarterback and was named player of the year by United Press International, The Sporting News, and SPORT magazine. In addition, the American College Football Coaches Association designated him as their Offensive Player of the Year. He became the second multiple recipient of the W.J. Voit Memorial Trophy, awarded each year to the outstanding football player on the Pacific Coast. Plunkett received the Voit Trophy in both 1969 and 1970.

Before Plunkett entered the NFL, he played in James Lick High School, and is in their hall of fame wall in the James Lick gymnasium, also UCLA coach Tommy Prothro had called him the "best pro quarterback prospect I've ever seen", echoing Sweeney's words from the year prior. His excellent arm strength and precision made him attractive to pro teams that relied much more heavily on the passing game than most college teams of the late 1960s. In 1971, he was drafted with the first overall pick in the NFL draft by the New England Patriots. Plunkett owns the distinction of being the only player of Hispanic heritage to be drafted with the first overall pick in the NFL draft. The Patriots finished the season at 6-8, fourth place in the AFC East.

Plunkett's first game was a 20-6 victory over the Oakland Raiders, the Patriots' first regular-season contest at Schaefer Stadium. New England also influenced the AFC East championship race, as Plunkett's 88-yard fourth-quarter touchdown pass to former Stanford teammate Randy Vataha on the final day of the season dropped the Baltimore Colts to a 10-4-0 record and into second place in the division behind the 10-3-1 Miami Dolphins. Two weeks before the Patriots defeated the Colts, Plunkett engineered a 34-13 victory over the Dolphins.

Plunkett's touchdowns dropped and his interceptions rose in the following seasons, however, and he struggled with injuries and a shaky offensive line for the rest of his tenure in New England. By 1975, the Patriots drafted Steve Grogan, who would become a fixture with the club for 16 seasons, and under the leadership of coach Chuck Fairbanks, New England's offense became more run-oriented, led by Sam Cunningham.

In 1976, Plunkett was traded to the San Francisco 49ers, and led the team to a 6-1 start before faltering to an 8-6 record. After a 5-9 season in 1977, the 49ers released him during the 1978 preseason.

Plunkett then joined the Oakland Raiders in 1978, serving in a reserve capacity over the next two years, throwing no passes in 1978 and just 15 passes in 1979. However, five weeks into the 1980 NFL season, his career took a major turn when starting QB Dan Pastorini fractured his leg in a game against the Kansas City Chiefs. The 33-year-old Plunkett came off the bench to relieve Pastorini, throwing five interceptions in a 31-17 loss. The Raiders, however, believing that Marc Wilson did not have the experience they wanted, called on Plunkett to start for the remainder of the year. In his first game as a starter, he completed eleven of fourteen passes with a touchdown and no interceptions. Plunkett guided Oakland to nine victories in eleven games and a playoff berth as a wild card. Plunkett led the Raiders to four playoff victories, including the first-ever victory by a wild card team in the Super Bowl, defeating the Philadelphia Eagles 27–10 in Super Bowl XV. Throwing for 261 yards and three touchdowns, Plunkett was named the game's MVP; subsequently, Plunkett has the distinction of being the first minority to quarterback a team to a Super Bowl victory and the only Hispanic to be named Super Bowl MVP. In addition to this, he became the second of four players to win the Heisman Trophy and Super Bowl MVP, Roger Staubach before him, and Marcus Allen and Desmond Howard after him.

After returning to the backup role in 1983, Plunkett again assumed starting duties, this time after an injury to Wilson. The Raiders advanced to Super Bowl XVIII, where they defeated the Washington Redskins, 38-9. Plunkett completed 16 of 25 passes for 172 yards and a touchdown in the game.

Plunkett spent most of his last three seasons either injured or as a backup. He retired after the 1986 season, and is currently the fourth-leading passer in Raiders history.

Currently, Plunkett does a post-game radio show of Raiders games, and is a co-host of several Raiders TV shows. A feature film based on his life is in the works.

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Joseph H. De Castro, Medal of Honor Recipient

Posted on 04/25/2011 @ 11:57 AM

Corporal Joseph H. De Castro (November 14, 1844 – May 8, 1892), was the first Hispanic-American to be awarded the United States' highest military decoration for valor in combat — the Medal of Honor — for having distinguished himself during Pickett's Charge in the Battle of Gettysburg of the American Civil War.

De Castro was the Massachusetts State flag bearer of Company I, 19th Massachusetts Infantry, an all volunteer unit. The unit participated in the Battle of Gettysburg at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania as part of the III Corps 3rd Brigade, U.S. Army under the command of Colonel Norman J. Hall.

On July 3, 1863, the third and last day of the battle, his unit participated in what became known as Pickett's Charge. Pickett's Charge was a disastrous infantry assault ordered by Confederate General Robert E. Lee against Major General George G. Meade's Union positions on Cemetery Ridge. During the battle, De Castro attacked a confederate flag bearer from the 19th Virginia Infantry regiment, with the staff of his own colors and seized the opposing regiment's flag, handing the prize over to General Alexander S. Webb. General Webb is quoted as saying, "At the instant a man broke through my lines and thrust a rebel battle flag into my hands. He never said a word and darted back. It was Corporal Joseph H. De Castro, one of my color bearers. He had knocked down a color bearer in the enemy's line with the staff of the Massachusetts State colors, seized the falling flag and dashed it to me". On December 1, 1864, De Castro was one of seven men from the 19th Massachusetts Infantry to be awarded the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor

Sergeant Joseph H. De Castro Rank and organization: Corporal, Company I, 19th Massachusetts Infantry Place and date: At Gettysburg, Pa., July 3, 1863 Born:Boston, Mass. Date of issue: December 1, 1864 Citation: Capture of flag of 19th Virginia regiment (C.S)

After the war De Castro entered the regular army and served for a few years. De Castro married Rosalia Rodriguez and in 1882 moved to New York City. There he was an active member of the Phil Kearny Post, number 8 GAR. He was recently employed by the NY Barge Office when on May 8, 1892, he died in his home at 244 West 22nd Street. His funeral was held at the 18th Street Methodist Church and he was buried at Fairmount Cemetery (Section 2, Lot 300, Grave 2) in Newark, New Jersey.

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Do you know the Nobel Laureates among Hispanic Americans?

Posted on 04/22/2011 @ 03:17 PM

In every step of America’s scientific and technological advancements, Latinos have helped guide the way. Latinos have contributed much in the fields of medicine and science, making discoveries that have generated new methods to understand the scientific phenomena of the natural world.

In 1959, Dr. Severo Ochoa won the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology for his discovery of RNA (ribonucleic acid), one of the chemical building blocks of life.

Severo Ochoa

Severo Ochoa

In 1968, Luis Alvarez won the Nobel Prize for his work in subatomic particles. As a professor at UC Berkeley, he helped develop microwave beacons and a new theory on how the dinosaurs became extinct.

Luis Alvarez

Luis Alvarez

In 1995, Mario Molina won the Nobel Prize for chemistry research that helped the world create a solution for the threat that chlorofluorocarbons pose to the earth’s protective ozone layer.

Mario Molina

Mario Molina

To learn more about these Nobel Laureates visit the official website of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Dr. Severo Ochoa

Luis Alvarez

Mario Molina

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