Posted: 3/01/07

Historic Smithsonian Exhibit Opens at TAMIU Today



A future president.  A revered labor leader.  A Nobel-Prize-winning chemist...

All are part of a historic national exhibition focusing on Latino achievement that opens to the public tomorrow at Texas A&M International University's Student Center.

Developed by the Smithsonian Latino Center, the exhibition is open to the public and free of charge.  It will be open through May 12 with viewing possible Monday-Saturday from 8 a.m. - 9 p.m. daily. Large group tours can be scheduled at 326.2175.

“Our Journeys/Our Stories: Portraits of Latino Achievement” presents narratives and portraits of 24 individuals and one extended family that provide a look at the experiences of U.S. Latinos who have made significant contributions to American life. A related exhibit, "TAMIU Portraits of Alumni Achievement," profiles 45 TAMIU alumni and their contributions.

Dr. Ray Keck, TAMIU president, said the bilingual exhibition's appearance at the University is historic.

“We are delighted to be the host of this important exhibit that offers a remarkable affirmation of the many Latino gifts to our nation.  This is a first for Laredo and  TAMIU.  Everyone should take advantage of this rare opportunity,” Dr. Keck said.

The exhibition, its national tour and related programs are made possible by Ford Motor Company Fund.  Ford Motor Company Fund has also provided support for the exhibition's presentation in Laredo and for related education programs scheduled.

Pilar O'Leary, director of the Smithsonian Latino Center, said the exhibition is both compelling and inspirational.

“This exhibition is an anthology of compelling biographical portraits that evoke the depth and breadth of Latino contributions to American society.  There will be well-known names in the exhibit as well as people who may not be as famous, but whose inspirational stories need to be told,”  O'Leary said.

Among the exhibition's portraits are astronaut Ellen Ochoa, athlete Rebecca Lobo, artist Pepón Osorio, labor leader Dolores Huerta and folklorist Teodoro Vidal. A biographical narrative that includes excerpts from recent oral history interviews complements the portraits.

Other portraits include Nobel Prize-winning chemist Mario Molina and  New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who recently announced his formation of an exploratory committee to weigh a possible presidential future.

The exhibition includes personal stories, photos, oral histories and dichos, or traditional sayings. The influential dichos pass knowledge, experience and values down through the generations.

Raquel “Rocky” Egusquiza, director of Community Development and International Strategy, Ford Motor Company Fund, said the exhibition goes to the heart of Latino success stories.

“These stories celebrate what's at the heart of so many Latino success stories - a desire to achieve and make a difference.  Visitors to this Smithsonian exhibit will have the opportunity to learn about Latinos who have made varying, but very important contributions to the American fabric,” Egusquiza explained.

The Smithsonian Latino Center's mission is to foster understanding and appreciation of Latino history and culture using the vast resources of the Smithsonian's collections, research and public programs, both in Washington and across the United States.

The exhibition's tour is coordinated by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Services (SITES), which has been sharing the wealth of the Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside of Washington, D.C. for more than 50 years.

The exhibition opened in Washington at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History and has been to San Jose, Chicago, El Paso, San Antonio, Ft. Wayne, IN, and San Juan, Puerto Rico. From Laredo, it will travel to Charlotte, Detroit, and New York.

For additional information, contact the TAMIU Office of Public Relations, Marketing and Information Services at 956.326.2180, visit offices in the Sue and Radcliffe Killam Library room 268, click on tamiu.edu or e-mail prmis@tamiu.edu

University office hours are from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Relations, Marketing and Information Services at prmis@tamiu.edu