Members of the Garifuna-American community of the U.S. Gulf Coast region in the city of Houston, Tx. joined fellow Garifunas across the country in the observance of National Garifuna Settlement, Education & Awareness Month, to celebrate Garifuna culture, history values and identity with events that included parades, forums and concerts.
Garifuna Settlement is the celebration of the arrival of the Garifuna people to Belize, Guatemala and Nicaragua beginning in November 1802. They settled in Honduras on Apr. 12, 1797 after being exiled due to their resistance of British colonization in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The country of Belize, after being petitioned by community organizer, Thomas Vincent Ramos in 1942, proclaimed November 19 as “Garifuna Settlement Day” a holiday in the country. In the United States, the City of Los Angeles first began the celebrations in the 1960s and is now a national celebration of pride, culture, and identity of this community.
Cities across the country hosted family events, music concerts, documentary premieres and the annual Garifuna Settlement mass to honor and pay tribute to the Hon. Thomas Vincent Ramos and ancestors. In addition, as part of Garifuna Settlement Month, December 2 is known as Andy Palacio Day.
In his greeting letter commending the Garifuna-American community U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez from Chicago praised the community, writing that: “This is time to honor the history and contributions of this unique immigrant group to our city, state and nation.”
Congressman Guitierrez is one of many local city, state and national leaders who honored Garifuna Settlement Education and Awareness Month.
“For more than two centuries, the Garifuna people have added greatly to the cultural pride and diversity in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean,” wrote Texas State Sen. Rodney Ellis in the Texas State Senate Proclamation of Garifuna Settlement, Education and Awareness Month,
In New York, South Bronx Public Relations firm, Elite Carib, in association with SOB’ (Sounds of Brazil), hosted the Garifuna Settlement Red Carpet and Wani Entertainment Awards -- a sold out event that recognized the contributions of world music and Garifuna recording artists, Don Cuellar, Gx Team and El Unico to world music and preservation of Garifuna culture and music. The SOB’s event marks the first time a Garifuna entity sells out an iconic venue like SOB’s, whose list of performing artists includes the late Celia Cruz, Andy Palacio, Tito Puente and modern-day entertainers like Marc Anthony, Aventura and Jay Z.
See New York Garifuna Celebration, Page 34.