The Cuban flag that draped the coffin of the legendary Celia Cruz during her memorial services held in Miami and New York City last month, was dedicated by the Celia Cruz Foundation to the Cuban Heritage Collection [CHC] for permanent preservation and display in the Richter Library. A year-long exhibit entitled “La Guarachera de Cuba” will accompany the flag and will include promotional materials, posters, photos and personal papers that belonged to the artist.
“Celia was, and is, a Cuban idol,” Anamaria Guerrero-Machado, who attended the event, said.
In the summer of 1999, Cruz received an honorary doctorate degree from UM.
“Celia is the kind of person that you meet and you feel you’ve known her your whole life,” Raquel Padron, who met Celia when she received her honorary degree, said.
Cruz’s career in music and film spanned over five decades. She recorded over 70 albums and was featured in several movies and novelas throughout her life.
The Miami Hurricane interviewed Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas, who was an attendee at the dedication, and asked him to describe Cruz in one word.
“Celia is life,” Penelas said. “Through this flag and collection, the thousands of students that come to the University of Miami every year will be able to learn more about the Cuban people and community.”
Jorge A. Plasencia, vice-president of the Hispanic Broadcasting Corporation, said he recalled that Cruz had once mentioned that when she died, whoever was organizing her memorial services needed to find a funeral home with a lot of parking.
Plasencia said not even Cruz could have imagined it would take over 20 parking lots and an entire Metro-Rail system to accommodate the thousands upon thousands of fans who came to visit Cruz during her memorial service held in downtown Miami.
“Celia’s goodbye was one of the largest and most memorable in the history of America,” Plasencia said.
Cruz’s life partner of 41 years, Pedro Knight, also spoke at the dedication, visibly overcome with emotion.
“Although my heart is devastated, I will always remember the time I spent with her,” Knight said to the audience in Spanish.
Knight cut his speech short, stating that he did not want to burst into tears as he had previously done in front of the media.
For more information on the Celia Cruz exhibit, contact Richter Library at 8-2210 or visit the Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion on the second floor of Richter Library.
Jorge Arauz can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org