As a commissioner on the Michigan Historical Commission--the body that administers the Michigan Historical Marker Program, Dr. Fernández-Jones noticed a glaring gap in the Latinx representation among the state's historical markers. With over 1,800 markers across the state and even some in other states and countries, they are most seen near state buildings, historic churches, long-standing family farms, among other places, but only 2 markers mention Latinos. These iconic markers stand as a source of pride for the communities’ that are featured on the markers and connect them with a sense of belonging in Michigan.
Together with Dr. Nora Salas, the director of the Kutsche Office for Local History housed at Grand Valley State University and Veronica Quintino-Arranda and Erika VanDyke of the Latino Community Coalition, Dr. Fernandez-Jones are working on a collaborative initiative to obtain historical markers for Latinxs in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This project involves training community members and undergraduate students in primary source research, oral histories, personal archive creation, and sustainable archive collecting practices.
Beginning in 2022 with an estimated end date in 2024, the Latinx Historical Marker Project steering committee and volunteers will be researching and preparing to apply for historical markers. Our objective is to add three new historical markers about Latinxs in Grand Rapids by 2024. This public history initiative will be a powerful tool in teaching Michiganders, Midwesterners, and people across the country thatMichigan has been home to Latinxs from various countries in Latin America for over one hundred years.
If you are interested in getting involved, please visit: