America250 hosted a Community Conversation with members of the Latino, Hispanic, and Chicano communities on January 19, 2022. The conversation highlighted the influence and experience of these communities in the United States, provided insight on fully and accurately representing their diversity, and shaped America’s 250th anniversary.
The event was co-moderated by America250 staff members Dr. Megan Springate, Director of Engagement, and Dr. Carleen Carey, Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. The panel included Major General Alfred Valenzuela (Ret.), United States Army and Co-chair of the Veterans, Military, & Family Members America250 Advisory Council; María Carla Chicuen, Founding Executive Director, CasaCuba at Florida International University; Mary Ann Gomez Orta, President and CEO of the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute; Patricia Mota, President and CEO of the Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement; and Omar Eaton-Martínez, Assistant Division Chief, Historic Resources, Natural and Historical Resource Division, Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Department of Parks and Recreation, Prince George’s County, Maryland.
The panel emphasized embracing the rich diversity represented within these communities. “We are divided by so many groups, we all don’t look the same, we don’t cook the same, we don’t dance the same. We are different and you can’t just brush us together,” said Major General Alfred Valenzuela (Ret.). María Carla Chicuen called on America250 and others to showcase the diversity of these communities, a duty “to make sure that these stories are not just heard, but [are] being preserved and build generations to come.”
Mary Ann Gomez Orta expressed that many communities are fearful of bias and violence when sharing their stories. But, she says, “it all boils down to eliminating that fear, fostering an appreciation for diversity, fostering curiosity, and making sure that everyone is empowered to be free to tell their own story,” she said. Omar Eaton-Martínez emphasized the importance of not only inviting communities into the commemoration, but cultivating relationships. Omar hopes for an “iterative journey” with continuous evaluation of the spaces that were created and those left behind.
As we look to 2026, and beyond, Patricia Mota encouraged embracing the learning moments we come across and having “courageous conversations to help generate awareness and, most importantly, build more inclusive and equitable spaces for all.”
America250 will be hosting Community Conversations regularly through 2026. Upcoming events include a Community Conversation about the book Hornets Nest by Jimmy Carter taking place on February 24, 2022, and a Community Conversation with the Historic Preservation community on March 24, 2022.