Written by Camila Fernandez/BBC Managing Editor
As a Cuban patriot, a freedom fighter and poet, José Martí transformed Latin American literature as he strived for his country’s independence from Spain.
To honor the Cuban national hero, the University will host a 15th Annual José Martí Breakfast the day of the martyr’s birthday, Wednesday, Jan. 28 at the Biscayne Bay Campus.
“We are not only going to honor a Cuban person, but a Latin American person that was known and respected by Latin America,” said Raul Moncarz, University vice provost emeritus and starter of the event.
The breakfast event will also raise awareness about the José Martí Scholarship Fund for FIU students, as well as to collect donations for future scholarship recipients. Hundreds of dollars are awarded to winners.
According to Moncarz, this year’s commemoration will honor both the younger and older generations as an example of Martí’s respect for all ages.
For this reason, the University has invited guest speaker Juana Bober and students from MAST @ FIU Academy, David Lawrence Junior K-8 Center and Alonzo and Tracy Mourning Senior High to participate at the event.
A student of a relative of Martí, Bober will share her insight of the hero as a teacher and will also talk about her own involvement in the cuban community. She is also an artist, a writer and a painter.
As done in the past, the high school and middle school students will perform at the event with either a song or recitation of Martí’s poetry.
“Hopefully the young people will remember that not only do we honor them, but we also honor elderly people that have been very important in their lives,” Moncarz said. He made reference to Martí’s saying, “Los niños son la esperanza del mundo,” meaning “the children are the hope of this world.”
After singing the United States National Anthem, the Cuban National Anthem is also expected to be sung, a touching moment for everyone, Moncarz explained.
According to Marcy Alstrom, Student Government Association office assistant, what is most exciting about the event will be the unveiling of the newly installed José Martí statue at the Rincón Martiano near the Academic Two Building.
“We are very excited to have the unveiling of the statue as part of our program this year,”Alstrom said. “It’s something that we’ve been looking forward to for quite some time.”
The statue was donated by cuban Ysmelio Lopez, who also donated a statue of liberty located on the campus. It is said that a replica of the statue will also be placed at the Modesto A. Maidique Campus.
Fernando Ottati, graphic artist for BBC Campus Life and attendee of the event for the past few years, said that it is nice to see younger generations still reading Martí’s great works.
“We are all influenced by what he did and what he wrote,” said Ottati. “And [the children] read aloud what he did. It’s nice to see that,” he said.
Ottati said that as a young student in Uruguay, he remembers having studied Latin American writers, including Martí. He said his favorite poem is “La Niña de Guatemala” of which to this day he can still recite a part of: “Dicen que murió de frío. Yo sé que murió de amor,” meaning, “they say she died from cold, I know she died of love.”
The breakfast will be held at the Wolfe University Center Ballrooms from 8:15 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. The event is free and opened to the public.