Bronx Politicians Honor Garifunas (and Non-Garifunas) At Abrazo GARIFUNA Banquet on THURSDAY April 9th 2015 in the Bronx in Honor of 2015 Garifuna American Heritage Month in New York

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Bronx, New York — Led by New York State Senator Rev. Ruben Diaz Sr (of the 32nd Senate District in New York) 1; Bronx Politicians will be honoring select Garifuna (and Non-Garifuna) individuals noted for their efforts to preserving aspects of Garifuna Culture at the FIFTH Annual Abrazo Garifuna Banquet on THURSDAY, April 9th 2015 in the Bronx.  This event will help conclude 2015 Garifuna American Heritage Month in New York (March 11th through April 12th).

New York State Senator Rev.  Ruben Diaz Sr at the 2013 Abrazo Garifuna Banquet.  Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr.  All Rights Reserved.

New York State Senator Rev. Ruben Diaz Sr at the 2013 Abrazo Garifuna Banquet. Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr. All Rights Reserved.

Joining New York State Senator Rev. Ruben Diaz Sr as co-sponsors of the 2015 Abrazo Garifuna Banquet include:

  • New York State Assemblyman Hon. Marcos A. Crespo (Assembly District 85, Bronx) 2
  • New York State Assemblyman Hon. Luis R. Sepulveda (Assembly District 87, Bronx) 3
  • New York State Assemblyman Hon. Michael Blake (Assembly District 79, Bronx) 4

Typically, Bronx Politicians award Citations and Proclamations to Garifuna (or non-Garifuna) individuals who demonstrated their commitment to preserving and / or promoting aspects of Garifuna culture or who have achieved a noteworthy level of accomplishment in and for the Garifuna ethnic group in the New York City area.

Honorees at the 2013 Abrazo Garifuna Banquet.  Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr.  All Rights Reserved.

Honorees at the 2013 Abrazo Garifuna Banquet. (From Left to Right) Thurito Martinez, Satuyee Toussant, Catherine Ochun Soliz-Rey, Rosemary Ordonez-Jenkins, Milton Güity.   Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr. All Rights Reserved.

Those honored at the 2015 Abrazo Garifuna Banquet include: (“Abrazo” is hug in the Spanish Language).  5

  • Marcia Gomez (Community Leadership)
  • Arnol Güity-Martinez (Youth Leadership)
  • Deacon Apolonio Mejia (Religion)
  • Yeny “Budari” Palacios (Arts and Culture)

500 Seats are available at the Abrazo Garifuna Banquet.  Past Abrazo Garifuna Banquets that I have attended and photographed have always been packed to capacity.  While the Abrazo Garifuna Banquet is a FREE event that is open to the public, because of the venue’s capacity, an invite-only policy is instituted so that the venue isn’t filled past regulation levels.

If you find the BEING GARIFUNA Website helpful and useful, please DONATE.  Every dollar donated helps keep this website in operation.  Donations are accepted via the PAYPAL website so your potential donations are SAFE and SECURE.

This event, by invitation only, will take place at Maestros Caterers located at 1703 Bronxdale Avenue, Bronx, New York, on Thursday, April 9th 2015 from 7:00 pm to 12:00 am.

2015 Abrazo Garifuna Banquet in the Bronx.

2015 Abrazo Garifuna Banquet in the Bronx.

Below is video from the 2013 Abrazo Garifuna Banquet.

Maburigaü & Inebesei (“Greetings & Respect” in the Garifuna Language) to the Honorees of the 2015 Abrazo Garifuna Banquet in the Bronx.

About Garifuna American Heritage Month in New York

Garifuna American Heritage Month in New York (March 11th through April 12th) is designed to reflect on and observe the occasion of the Garifuna people (then known as Black Caribs) being kicked out of their ancestral land of St. Vincent Island on March 11th 1797 to their arrival in Central America on April 12th 1797.  The dates reference the period of time where the Garifuna voyage took place between their ancestral land and their new place of residence, where a new life was forced upon them.

According to a press release from the non-profit organization the Garifuna Coalition USA Inc, Garifuna American Heritage Month in New York also,

“celebrates the great contributions of Garífuna-Americans to the fabric of New York City and New York State, and pays tribute to the common culture and bonds of friendship that unite the United States and the Garífuna’s countries of origin (Belize, Guatemala, Honduras Nicaragua and St Vincent and the Grenadines.)”.

The Garifuna Coalition adds, “New York City is home to the largest Garífuna Community outside of Central America!  However, although Garífunas have been migrating here in search of a better life since the 1930s; the community was virtually obscured until the Happy Land Social Club fire on March 25th, 1990.”  Most of the victims of that tragedy were Honduran, many were of Garifuna descent 6.

 

2015 Garifuna American Heritage Month in New York. (March 11th through April 12th). Logo by Ivan Moreira.

2015 Garifuna American Heritage Month in New York. (March 11th through April 12th). Logo by Ivan Moreira.

Overall, the idea is to pay tribute to the survival and resiliency of the Garifuna people and also highlight the contributions made by Garifunas to the state of New York and the United States of America.  Also, this as well as other activities taking place in New York during Garifuna American Heritage Month in New York are designed to further visibility of the Garifuna ethnic group to the general populace of New York City.  Garifuna American Heritage Month in New York has been celebrated since 2009.

ABOUT The Garifuna People

The Garifuna people are people of African descent (in other words, Black people) whose ancestry can be traced to Africans mixing with Carib Indians and Arawak Indians on the Eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent. From this fusion of race and ethnicities in St. Vincent Island, a distinct culture and language arose.  They are noted for being one of the few (only?) peoples of African descent (again, in other words, Black people) in the Americas to have maintained aspects of their ancestral culture and full use of their ancestral language for everyday use over the course of hundreds of years.

After being defeated in war with the British on St. Vincent in 1796; 1004 men, 1779 women and 1,555 children for a total of 4,338 people (mostly Black Caribs, as the Garifuna people were then known) were captured and taken to Baliceaux, a small island, a rock, basically, off the coast of St. Vincent.  This took place from July 1796 through February/March 1797.  About 2,000 Garifunas died of a mysterious and very infectious fever while living on Baliceaux awaiting their fate.  7

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In early March 1797, the remaining Garifunas were loaded onto the HMS Experiment and other ships.  Once they were rounded up, the convoy were taken to a Bequia, which is another island off the coast of St. Vincent. They proceeded to go to Grenada to get water, then Jamaica for refueling, then finally Roatan, Honduras, arriving on April 12th 1797.

Finding much of Roatan unliveable, the Garifuna people petitioned officials representing Spain and it’s government (which controlled much of Central America at the time) to be allowed to move to the Honduran mainland.  Upon being allowed to move to the Honduran mainland, namely the port town of Trujillo, Honduras in May 1797; the Garifunas settled many towns and villages along the Caribbean coast of Honduras.  They also migrated to the neighboring countries of Guatemala, Belize (then known as British Honduras) and Nicaragua over the years.  Finally, Garifuna People have also migrated to the United States of America where generations have settled in cities like New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles.  Despite their mainly Spanish surnames, their culture and history are distinct from other Afro-American and Latino ethnic groups and it’s important to keep that in mind.

If you find the BEING GARIFUNA Website helpful and useful, please DONATE.  Every dollar donated helps keep this website in operation.  Donations are accepted via the PAYPAL website so your potential donations are SAFE and SECURE.

2015 Abrazo Garifuna Banquet in the Bronx.

2015 Abrazo Garifuna Banquet in the Bronx.

 

Notes:

  1. http://www.nysenate.gov/senator/ruben-diaz/
  2. http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/Marcos-A-Crespo/
  3. http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/Luis-R-Sepulveda
  4. http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/Michael-Blake/
  5. http://www.nysenate.gov/press-release/diaz-team-announces-fifth-abrazo-garifuna
  6. Edna Negron, “Club Tragedy an Awakening for Garifuna”, New York Newsday, Sunday, August 18th 1991.
  7. Nancie L Gonzalez, “Sojourners of The Caribbean: Ethnogenesis and Ethnohistory of the Garifuna” pgs 21-23

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