Earlier this month at City Hall, March 11-April 12 was proclaimed Garífuna-American Heritage Month. Members of the Garifuna Coalition and others in the community were on hand for the honors. Heritage Month acknowledges the great contributions of Garífuna-Americans to the fabric of New York City and New York State.
Among the month of significant dates and scheduled events, Garifuna-American Heritage will be celebrated April 3 at Bronx County Courthouse and April 11 at Brooklyn Borough Hall, both starting at 5:30 p.m.
Also, a Garifuna (full) Day Conference & Festival will take place on April 12 at 344 Brook Ave. in Bronx. This is the Garifuna Community’s sixth year celebrating Garífuna-American Heritage Month in New York.
Heritage Month 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.
New York City is home to the largest Garífuna Community outside of Central America, part of a migration since the 1930s. The community was virtually obscure, but the Happy Land Social Club fire on March 25, 1990, when almost half of the 87 victims were Garifuna, brought more visibility. A granite memorial dedicated in 1995, east of the 1959 Southern Blvd. site of the fire, commemorates those who died. Behind the impressive marker is a placard that lists the names of those that perished in the club.
Garifuna-American Heritage Month 2014 also observes the 217th anniversary of the forcible transfer of the Garifuna people from St. Vincent to Central America and their arrival on April 12, 1797.