NEW YORK, USA — March 11 to April 12, 2013, will be celebrated as Garifuna-American Heritage Month 2013, in observance of the 216th anniversary of the exile of the Garifuna people from St Vincent and their settlement in Central America.
During Garifuna-American Heritage Month, the great contributions of Garifuna-Americans to the fabric of the New York State and New York City will be celebrated, and tribute paid to the common culture and bonds of friendship that unite the United States and the Garifuna countries of origin.
The Garifuna American legacy and history are inextricably linked to the United States and marked by the strength, determination and vision of such notable individuals as William Henry Brown, playwright of The Drama of King Shotaway, a play which is recognized as the first black drama of the American Theatre, and which has as its subject the 1795 Black Caribs (Garifunas) defence of the island of Saint Vincent, against colonization, led by the Paramount Chief Joseph Chatoyer.
Furthermore, on May 18, 2001, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) proclaimed the Garifuna language, dance and music as a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangibles Heritage of Humanity.”
New York is home to the largest Garifuna community outside of Central America and, according to unofficial estimates, the Garifuna population exceeds 200,000, living in the South Bronx, Brownsville and East New York in Brooklyn, and Manhattan’s Upper West Side. However, although Garifunas have been migrating to the United States in search of a better life since the 1930s, the community was virtually obscured in New York until the Happy Land Social Club fire on March 25, 1990.
The special observance of the 218th anniversary of the death of the Paramount Garifuna Chief Joseph Chatoyer on March 14, 1795, and the 216th anniversary of the exile of the Garifuna people from St Vincent on March 11, 1797, and their arrival in Central America on April 12, 1797, serve to commemorate the survival of the Garifuna-American heritage and culture.
To kick off Garifuna Heritage Month, the Garifuna Coalition USA, Inc., in cooperation with other community and civic organizations will schedule various activities, among them the following:
Saturday, March 9, 2013 – Monday, March 11, 2013: 216th Anniversary of the Exile of the Garifunas from St Vincent and the Grenadines
Garifuna American Heritage Month 2013: Bronx County Courthouse, 851 Grand Concourse, Bronx
Tuesday, March 12, 2013: Garifuna-American Heritage Month Resolution presented by Senator Ruben Diaz. New York State Capitol, Albany, NY
Thursday, March 14: 218th anniversary of the death of the Paramount Chief Joseph Chatoyer
Thursday, March 14, 2013, 7:00 pm: Abrazo Garifuna – By Invitation
Sunday, March 17, 2013, 1:00 pm: Joseph Chatoyer Memorial Mass, St Anthony of Padua Church