Saturday, January 09, 2010

Garifuna-American Heritage Month

The Board of Directors of the Garifuna Coalition USA, Inc. a, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization is pleased to announce that Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr, has agreed to issue the proclamation of March 11th – April 12th, 2010 as Garifuna Heritage Month 2010 in observance of the 213th anniversary of the exile of the Garifuna people from St Vincent on March 11th, 1797 and their settlement in Central America on April 12th, 1797.

In addition, New York State Governor David A. Paterson’s New York City Regional Representative Executive Chamber has informed us that the Governor will also issue a proclamation of Garifuna Heritage Month. Proclamations are the most significant of non-legal, yet official forms of recognition issued by the Governor.

The proclamations will be presented during the Garifuna American Heritage Month 2010 Press Conference on Thursday, March 11, 2010 at 11:00 AM in the Rotunda of the Bronx County Building at 851 Grand Concourse, Bronx NY 10451.

During Garifuna-American Heritage Month, we will celebrate the great contributions of Garifuna-Americans to the fabric of New York, and will pay tribute to the common culture and bonds of friendship that unite the United States and the Garifuna countries of origin.

Although there is no official record of when the first Garifunas arrived in North America, a New York City theater playbill revealed that Garifunas may have migrated during the nineteenth century. The playbill was for an 1823 play about the Garifuna Paramount Chief Joseph Chatoyer. Playwright William Henry Brown’s play The Drama of King Shotoway, is recognized as the first black drama of the American Theatre and has as its subject the 1795 Black Caribs (Garifunas) Insurrection in the Island of Saint Vincent.

New York City is home to the largest Garifuna Community outside of Central America; however, the community was virtually obscured in New York until the Happy Land Social Club fire on March 25th, 1990.

The Garifuna Heritage Month Proclamation is significant and critical in making visible the Garifuna American identity, developing the agenda and recognizing Garifuna Americans who contribute significantly to the American landscape.

We invite you to join us at this historic event.