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Statement Regarding Puerto Rican Diaspora Activism Summit

January 27, 2021

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History is researching, documenting and collecting around community-led efforts in Puerto Rico related to the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, the #RickyRenuncia movement and the responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The museum’s participation and facilitation of the Puerto Rican Diaspora Activism Summit  Jan. 28 and 29 is part of this effort. The Smithsonian Latino Center is supporting this National Museum of American History project as part of its overall mission to increase awareness and access to Latino history, collections and resources. As a trust-instrumentality of the federal government, the Smithsonian is non-partisan and does not take political positions. Our scholarly interest is in community-led recovery efforts. For this summit, our curatorial team will be listening to various narratives and exploring avenues for future research. Participating in efforts like this summit allows us to identify potential object donors and expand our network in Puerto Rico.    

At the museum, our mission is empowering people to create a just and compassionate future by exploring, preserving and sharing the complexity of our past. To do so, we work with organizations across the political spectrum to allow for a number of viewpoints and perspectives to be reflected. The museum's goal is to document a diverse and balanced history. Participation in programs like this one, does not imply an endorsement of any viewpoints expressed by any of the collaborating organizations or of any of the panel participants. 

We want to ensure that the story of Puerto Rico and its people is included in the collections of the Smithsonian, particularly with the cascading crises in the wake of multiple disasters. The focus of our efforts is to document and understand disaster response and recovery efforts, including how Puerto Ricans have improvised and innovated ways to rebuild basic social amenities and essential services. To do so, we are engaging in shared conversations and are committed to long-term discussions as to how and where to preserve local heritage and how to assist the community in archiving its contemporary history.  

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