Celebration breakfast to honor life of Cuban activist

By: Malcolm Shields/Contributing Writer

For the eleventh consecutive year, the University will celebrate the life, vision, and poetry of one of Cuba’s greatest activist: Jose Marti.

The Jose Marti Celebration Breakfast will take place on Friday, Jan. 28 at the Wolfe University Center on the Biscayne Bay Campus.

Marti was born in Havana, Cuba in 1853. Throughout his life, he was an outspoken opponent of Spanish colonialism in Cuba. Marti would be exiled from his homeland to Spain after expressing his political views that were critical of the ruling Spanish colonists.

While in exile, his vision for an independent Cuba was intensified by seeing other Latin American countries receiving their independence. Marti began a movement for Cuban independence in 1892. In 1895, he would return to Cuba and would be killed fighting alongside other Cuban revolutionaries against the Spanish.

Jan Solomon, development officer in the Office of the Vice Provost at BBC, put into context the significance of Marti’s accomplishments in Cuban history as well as his importance to the Cuban American community here in South Florida.

“He is remembered as a great patriot for Cuba,” Solomon said. “He was a writer, a poet, a journalist and an activist for human rights and political rights.”

“He is just remembered as in a way [Americans] have Martin Luther King – Cubans have Jose Marti. He is a person to be remembered for freedom and he really represents freedom for the Cuban people.”

The festivities will begin at 8 a.m. at Panther Square. Cuban food and refreshments will be provided to those who attend the ceremony.

After the meal, the ceremony will move into the Mary Ann Wolfe Theater where a musical performance by David Lawrence Upper Academy will be conducted in tribute to Marti.

The musical showcase will be performed completely in Spanish. The performance will be about thirty minutes long.

The event’s theme this year is focused on universal human rights and responsibilities. A panel consisting of former Cuban political prisoners Adolfo Fernandez Saiz, Pedro Pablo, Alvarez Ramos, and Omar Ruiz will speak about living under the harsh rule of communist Cuba.

“They will speak about the experience as well as … what Jose Marti means to them, what this day means to them and the importance of human rights,” Solomon said.

University professors Fernando Figueredo, Uva de Aragon, and Teresa Pointe will conduct the question and answers portion of the ceremony with the political prisoners.

“It will be a real learning experience for whoever is there,” Solomon said.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, three scholarships will be presented to three University students who were nominated to receive the Jose Marti Scholarship.

It is based on high academic achievement. Each scholarship awarded will be $500 to each recipient courtesy of the Jose Marti Scholarship Fund.

Applicants for the scholarship had to have a minimum 3.0 GPA and had to complete a one page essay explaining what are the main values to universal human rights and the definition of global citizenship. The event is free to the public.

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