Members of the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras gathered at Sheridan Circle today to celebrate their acceptance of a prestigious award for their dedication to their community.
The Institute for Policy Studies awards a Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award annually in honor of human rights champions Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffit, who were assassinated by a car bomb in 1976 on the orders of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.
The celebration included traditional music played by members of the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras and other Garífuna attendees.
The crowd danced and sang along to show their appreciation for the award and to support members of the Garífuna community.
The Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras fights for human rights by giving a voice to Garifuna people, the matrilineal people who are both Indigenous and Afro-descent.
For decades, the Garifuna people have faced historical injustices in their struggle to gain autonomy, in addition to social, economic, cultural and territorial rights.
As well as battling human rights, also seeks to find legal defense of ancestral Garífuna territory, by assisting communities in three cases and four petitions before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
General Coordinator of the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras Miriam Miranda accepted the award at a ceremony on Oct. 13 and said it was important to highlight the work of the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras.
“This recognition of our work by IPS will help advance our cause in defense of the collective and human rights of our people,” Miranda said.
Miranda said she found it important to bring the community together again today to showcase their hard work leading up to the award.
The Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras member Miriem Herrera said the recognition gives other members of the organization a chance to recognize the impact they’ve had.
“We want them to see their work and efforts have made an impact,” Herrera said.
Emilia Boddes attended today’s celebration in honor of her family members who have experienced the trauma that comes for many Garífuna people in Honduras.
She said that despite today’s celebration, there is still a lot of work to be done within Honduran communities.
“If we do more events like this more people might come around to help,” Boddes said.
Boddes said the celebration is all about bringing community awareness about what the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras is doing for the people of Honduras and the struggles they face.
“This is the only way we can fight. In unity, we can fight together,” Boddes said.
Though the District does have a community of Garífuna people, Boddes said there are much bigger committees in New York but she hopes they can strengthen the community in Washington, D.C and worldwide.
“It is letting the world know about our organization,” Boddes said.
Members of the organization and community members alike traveled from different locations to attend the celebration.
The celebration included a traditional tribute to Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffit and to the Institute for Policy Studies for their award.
Herrera said it is common in Garífuna culture to communicate with people who have passed through a musical ceremony.
“We are inviting them to be a part of their own celebration,” Herrera said.