The Cuban flag that draped the coffin of legendary artist Celia Cruz during her memorial services held in Miami and New York City was given as a gift from the Municipios de Cuba en el Exilio to Cruz’s family. The Celia Cruz Foundation and Pedro Knight than donated it to the Cuban Heritage Collection [CHC] at the Otto G. Richter Library for permanent preservation and display.

“Celia was, and is, a Cuban idol,” Anamaria Guerrero-Machado, who was at 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 novels throughout her life.

“Celia is life,” Alex Penelas, Miami-Dade mayor, 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 that 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 that 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. I

>> For more information on the Celia Cruz collection, contact Richter Library at 305-284-2210, or visit the Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion on the second floor of Richter Library.