DOINews: NPS: Latino Legacy Summit Held In San Antonio

Last edited 09/05/2019

Attendees at the Latino heritage summit
Attendees take part in workshops on Latino heritage and historic preservation at the summit. Photo by NPS.

On Saturday, Feb.15, the National Park Service, along with many local partners, hosted the San Antonio Latino Legacy Summit at the historic Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center Theater, located in the historic Westside neighborhood of San Antonio, Texas.

The well attended and successful event was planned by a collaborative committee from the Washington and Intermountain Region cultural resources offices, San Antonio Missions National Historical Park and numerous national, state, and local partners.

Partners included the National Trust for Historic Preservation, American Latino Heritage Fund, National Parks Conservation Association, Texas Historical Society, Center for Cultural Sustainability at the University of Texas at San Antonio, Institute of Texan Cultures, City of San Antonio Office of Historic Preservation, Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, Los Compadres de San Antonio Missions, Westside Preservation Alliance, and the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center. Without a strong partnership between all parties the event would not have been possible.

The purpose of the summit was to publicly present the National Park System Advisory Board publication, American Latinos and the Making of the United States: A Theme Study, and to engage in a conversation about preservation and Latino heritage. The theme study, produced with guidance from the American Latino scholars expert panel, provides a national context for Latino history in the US, with a particular focus on the twentieth century. This historic context is intended to assist with the preparation of National Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmark nominations for properties associated with Latino heritage.

The theme study was produced as part of the American Latino Heritage Initiative. Information about other projects under this initiative as well as an online copy of the theme study can be found at

The 200 attendees included local citizens interested in Latino heritage and historic preservation, local and state historic preservation professionals, and educators. National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis gave the keynote address, in which he underscored the important role Latinos have played throughout the nation's history and highlighted some of the NPS' efforts at telling a more inclusive history. The director emphasized that partnerships and conversations between the National Park Service and the Latino community are needed to make sure that Latino stories are told.

Well known entrepreneur, designer, philanthropist, and National Park Foundation Board member, Henry Muñoz, also spoke at the summit. Muñoz, a strong advocate of the initiative, praised the National Park Foundation's American Latino Heritage Fund's support of NPS' efforts to tell a more inclusive story and encourage Latinos to visit national parks and public lands. Although the NPS is making strides in preserving America's shared heritage, Muñoz reminded the audience that the strength of the historic preservation movement in this country is rooted in grassroots advocacy, memory, and scholarship.

Four participatory-style workshops were held after lunch and were led by local preservationists and historians and staff of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Topics discussed included approaches to historic preservation in working class communities, community based tools for establishing significance for sites and structures, and case studies to broaden the understanding of laws, players, and approaches to preserving Latino heritage.

After the summit, about 50 attendees participated in a Paseo por el Westside, a walking tour of the Westside of San Antonio, hosted by the Westside Preservation Alliance.

By: Paloma Bolasny, NPS

Feb. 20, 2014

This story appears in the Feb. 20 edition of InsideNPS.

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