NYC Council celebrates Garifuna heritage – Carib Vibe Radio

NYC Council celebrates Garifuna heritage

New York City Council on Wednesday, April 10, joined the Bronx-based Garifuna Coalition USA, Inc. in the celebration of Garifuna heritage at City Hall.

Among elected officials at the ceremony were: New York City Speaker Adrienne E. Adams; Majority Leader Amanda Farías; and Council Members Althea Stevens, Crystal Hudson, Rita Joseph, Julie Menin, Kevin, Pierina Ana Sanchez and Natasha Williams.

From left: Council Members Rita Joseph, Althea Steven, Arnol Guity-Martinez, Evelyn Arauz-Chamorro, Adrian Cacho and Council Member Pierina Ana Sanchez. Photo by Qaasim Barefield, QLICK Photography

“The Garifunas are an Afro-indigenous ethnic group with roots in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” said Stevens, who represents the 16th District in the Bronx. “New York is home to the largest Garifuna population outside of Central America, with approximately 250,000.

“Over half the population resides in the Bronx, making it the largest concentration of Garifunas in New York City,” she added.

Council Member Althea Stevens with members of the Garifuna Coalition USA, Inc. Photo by Qaasim Barefield, QLICK Photography

José Francisco Ávila, chairman of the Board of the Garifuna Coalition USA, Inc., told Caribbean Life on Sunday that the celebration was in observance of the 227th anniversary of “the forcible displacement of the Garifuna people by the British from their ancestral homeland of St. Vincent ‘Yurumein’ (presently known as St. Vincent and the Grenadines) to Central America in 1797 and the celebration of Garifuna-American Heritage Month from March 11 – April 12, which celebrates Garifuna heritage, culture and contributions.”

During the ceremony, Ávila said Stevens, Sanchez and Joseph honored Arnol Guity-Martinez, Adrian Cacho and Evelyn Arauz-Chamorro for “the amazing work that they are doing.”

He said the evening also included performances by the Wabafu Garifuna Dance Theater.

Ávila said the celebration marked the conclusion of Garifuna Heritage Month in New York.

Members of the Wabafu Garifuna Dance Theater performs at City Hall as NYC Council celebrates Garifuna heritage. Photo by Qaasim Barefield, QLICK Photography

Despite migrating to New York since the 1930s, Stevens said, “the community was not recognized until the tragedy struck on March 25, 1990, during the Happy Land Social Club.”

She said most of the 87 victims were of Garifuna ancestry.

“Unfortunately, as it usually happens with people of color, it’s not until a tragedy happens that things comes to the forefront,” Stevens told the ceremony.

“But, again, I want to say that I am just so happy that I have the largest population of Garifunas in the Bronx, because the reality is we are the same people, and the Bronx has such a rich and diverse culture,” she added. “And let’s be clear, you guys add to the culture and beauty of it.”

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