Activist Litigator Files Lawsuit on the National Museum of the American Latino

Catherine A. Jones
 | February 26, 2024

In his ongoing saga of dismantling race-conscious decisions in the United States, Conservative Activist Edward Blum has launched a new attack. This time he’s targeting the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Latino.

Blum’s group, the American Alliance for Equal Rights (AAER), filed a new lawsuit in U.S. District Court in D.C., to halt the museum’s internship program. He alleges that the program perpetuates “pro-Latino discrimination.” 

“Absolutely ridiculous,” Founder of Hispanic Heritage Studies Monica Olivera writes in response to the news of the lawsuit, on LinkedIn.

And she’s not alone. 

“Estuardo Rodriguez, president and CEO of the nonprofit Friends of the National Museum of the American Latino, called the targeting of the internship program by AAER ‘shocking,’” NBC reports.

The Lawsuit on the National Museum of the American Latino

This lawsuit against the American Latino Museum marks the latest chapter in Blum’s crusade, which spans years and targets institutions, ranging from Harvard University to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

The AAER spearheaded lawsuits that ultimately led the Supreme Court to strike down race-based admissions in a landmark decision last June, reverberating across academia and beyond.

Now, in the wake of the Harvard ruling, Blum’s legal onslaught extends to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs. 

Blum asserts, “Important programs like these that restrict participation to only certain races and ethnicities are unfair and illegal.”

The lawsuit was filed last Thursday in the U.S. District Court in D.C. and is seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction prohibiting the museum from closing its application window and selecting interns. The deadline to apply is April 1, 2024.

“Important programs like these that restrict participation to only certain races and ethnicities are unfair and illegal,” Blum said in a statement Friday.

A Smithsonian spokeswoman did not comment when asked by the Washington Post, telling the newspaper “we never comment on litigation.”

Reactions and Responses from Latino Leaders

The Friends of the National Museum of the American Latino, a non-profit, charitable organization dedicated to the creation of a National American Latino Museum, immediately issued response to the lawsuit.

In a press release, the group issued the following statement:

“Edward Blum’s insidious efforts to stamp out the very diversity that has made our nation strong has now moved on to attack the very institutions that demonstrate the strength of the American experience. 

“Under their distorted definition of equality, the American Alliance for Equal Rights intentionally ignores the enormity of internship programs and experiences offered by the Smithsonian across more than 20 museums, and the National Zoo, in order to single out the one program designed to provide an opportunity to young Latino and Latina students to learn more about their community’s more than 500 years of U.S. history.

“It is clear that this is a continuation of efforts by Blum to test the boundaries of the recent Supreme Court decision. 

“We stand with our more than 100 national partners in support of the Smithsonian as it provides the opportunities for all diverse communities to share in the responsibility of teaching our American history through each community’s experience. 

We are without a doubt stronger together and made even stronger when we are allowed to lift up each other’s lived experience and share in the pride that it is to be American.”

Many Latino leaders are also publicly pledging their support for the American Latino Museum, including Nuestro Stories’ Publisher Manny Ruiz.

“Nuestro Stories stand with the Smithsonian Latino Museum as they are sued by a powerful special interest group that will stop at nothing to suppress DEI initiatives in all their forms,” Ruiz says. “This lawsuit is an affront to our culture, and a good hearted program that is simply trying to encourage more Latinos to participate in a museum field that we’re hardly present in.”

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Featured image is from the image Hoja Suelta, by José Guadalupe Posada, 1901.
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