Bronx Assemblyman wants to see Garifuna history in schools

A Bronx Assemblyman has proposed an amendment to New York State Education Law to include the history of the Garifuna people.

Assemblyman Luis R. Sepúlveda announced his plan during the 6th Annual Abrazo Garifuna in New York and in the New York State Assembly, according to the Bronx-based Garifuna group, The Garifuna Coalition U.S.A., Inc.

The Coalition said the Bill states that, “in order to promote a spirit of patriotic and civic service and obligation and to foster in the children of the state moral and intellectual qualities, which are essential in preparing to meet the obligations of citizenship in peace or in war, the regents of The University of the State of New York shall prescribe courses of instruction in patriotism, citizenship, and human rights issues, with particular attention to the study of the inhumanity of genocide, slavery, including… the history of the Garifuna People…to be maintained and followed in all the schools of the state.”

The Coalition said the proclamation of March 11 – April 12, 2016, declaring Garifuna-American Heritage Month in the State of New York, is in observance of the 219th Anniversary of the “forcible deportation by the British of the Garifuna People from St. Vincent and The Grenadines on March 11, 1797, and their settlement in Central America on April 12, 1797.”

According to the study guide for “The Garifuna Journey” video, “the study of the Garifuna provides insight into a people whose history has been one of struggle and determination to survive at a time when very few people, or nations, were able to resist the onslaught of colonialism and slavery.

“Despite exile and subsequent Diaspora, their traditional culture survives today,” the guide says. “It is a little known story that deserves its place in the annals of the African Diaspora.”

“We are grateful to Assemblyman Luis R. Sepúlveda for this initiative to amend the New York State Education Law to include the history of the Garifuna people,” said Jose Francisco Avila, chairman of the Board of the Garifuna Coalition U.S.A., Inc.

“It is the culmination of the Garifuna Coalition U.S.A., Inc. and its community partners who in 2009 decided that the community development initiative will be based on creating awareness and appreciation of the Garifuna culture and its contribution to the culture and society of New York City,” he added.

Avila urged the Garifuna Community of New York to “remain vigilant as the Bill enters the committee and calendar stages by communicating your views on a particular issue to your senator.

“You have another opportunity at this point to participate in the lawmaking process,” he said. “An expression of opinion on a proposed bill can be sent directly to the committee chairman, or it can be sent to your local senator for relay to the committee members.”

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