Skip to main content

Yzaguirre earns Smithsonian Latino Center Legacy Award

September 04, 2007

ASU's Raul Yzaguirre, has received a Lifetime Achievement Award as part of the first-ever Smithsonian Latino Center Legacy Awards ceremony.

Yzaguirre, ASU presidential professor of practice and director of the ASU Center for Community Development and Civil Rights in the College of Public Programs was honored Sept. 5. The Legacy Awards were presented at ¡Smithsonian Con Sabor!, a black-tie fundraising gala for nearly 1,000 national Latino community leaders from all sectors. The dinner will be held at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. as part of the Latino Center’s 10th anniversary celebration.

Yzaguirre was recognized for his 30 years as president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest constituency-based national Hispanic organization and a leading Hispanic “think tank” in Washington, D.C., and for his role as founder and director of the ASU Center for Community Development and Civil Rights. His legacy includes building NCLR from a regional advocacy group with 17 affiliates into an organization of more than 300 affiliates serving 41 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.

“Raul Yzaguirre’s influence on our nation is legendary. He is a national treasure. We congratulate him on this rare honor, and thank him for choosing ASU to continue his career,” said Debra Friedman, dean of the ASU College of Public Programs. “Our Center for Community Development and Civil Rights’ educational, asset-building and community development projects are thriving under his leadership.”

Throughout his life, Yzaguirre has fought for recognition of Latinos in all sectors of American society, particularly entertainment and culture. At the Smithsonian Institution, he chaired a task force calling for greater representation of Latinos in exhibitions, programs, collections and the Smithsonian’s work force. The task force eventually led to the establishment of the Smithsonian Latino Center in 1997.

Yzaguirre continues to be involved with various Hispanic organizations, serving on the Boards of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute to name a few. Among his many honors and awards, he was the first Hispanic to receive a Rockefeller Public Service Award from Princeton University and also received the Order of the Aztec Eagle in 1993, the highest honor awarded by the Government of Mexico to citizens of another country.

The Smithsonian Latino Center’s 2007 Legacy Awards also recognized a number of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans making significant contributions to the arts, sciences and humanities in the United States. U.S. Senators Mel Martinez and Ken Salazar will receive special recognition for demonstrating political leadership in advancing Latino culture and heritage.

Columba Bush, former First Lady of Florida, was the event’s Gala Chair and Ambassador Sarukhan of Mexico is Honorary Patron. President Felipe Calderón and First Lady Margarita Zavala of Mexico have been invited to participate as honorary hosts. In addition to Yzaguirre, 2007 Legacy Award honorees include:

Design: Enrique Norten and David Rodríguez

Visual Arts: Graciela Iturbide and Carmen Lomas Garza

Film: Arturo Ripstein and Moctesuma Esparza

Music: Los Tigres Del Norte

Arts Advocacy: Guadalupe Rivera Marín and Cheech Marin

Literature: Laura Esquivel and Luis Valdez

Humanities: Tomás Ybarra-Frausto and Dana Gioia

Emerging Talent: Alejandro Monteverde and Eduardo Verástegui

The Smithsonian Latino Center’s 10th anniversary celebration also features the “Mexican Treasures of the Smithsonian” exhibition, which launched Sept. 5. The annual exhibition features a different Latin American country each year. A bilingual online component of the display will be available at

As a founder of the Smithsonian Latino Center, Yzaguirre’s legacy includes ensuring that Latino contributions to arts, sciences and the humanities are highlighted through public programs, scholarly research, museum collections and educational opportunities at the Smithsonian Institution and its affiliated organizations.