TONI MORRISON HONORS MARTINIQUE’S AIMÉ CÉSAIRE
A TOWERING VOICE OF THE 20TH CENTURY
Toni Morrison Society dedicates a Bench by the Road to Aimé Césaire
NEW YORK, NY – June 6th, 2013
On June 26, 2013, the Toni Morrison Society will place a Bench by the Road in Fort-de-France, Martinique in honor of the 100th anniversary of the birth Aimé Césaire. The bench placement represents one of the keystone events in the year-long celebration and commemoration of Aimé Césaire in Martinique, France and throughout the world.
Born in Basse-Pointe, June 26, 1913, Aimé Césaire was an early proponent of black pride, dedicating his life to the struggle against colonialism and its racial stereotypes and the fight to bring equal to French overseas territories, including Martinique, equal status as regions of France.
The Bench by the Road Project of the Toni Morrison Society is a memorial history project established by the Society to honor an individual, place, or event that is of great importance in the history Black people who are part of the African Diaspora. The Project was launched in 2006 on the occasion of the 75th Birthday of Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison. Since 2006, the Society has placed nine benches in various locations including Sullivan’s Island off the cost of South Carolina, which was the point of entry for 40 percent of enslaved Africans who came to North America, the city of Oberlin in Ohio, which was part of the Underground Railroad , and Paris, in honor of Louis Delgrès, a French general and freedom fighter for Guadeloupe.
The Bench in honor of Aimé Césaire is the 10th Bench placement by the Society. As stated on the bench plaque in his honor to be unveiled on June 26th: “This Bench placed in honor of the 100th birthday of Aimé Césaire, son of Martinique and world renowned poet, playwright, author, teacher, anti-colonialist, and political leader.”
In 1935, Césaire was admitted to the prestigious Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris and was one of the principal architects of the Négritude Movement, the affirmation of a black and African Diaspora culture and heritage. Césaire’s most famous poem, Cahier D’un Retour au Pays Natal, was published in 1939. From 1945 to 2001, Césaire served as Mayor of Fort- de-France and served in the French National Assembly from 1946 to 1993 as Deputy.
Aimé Césaire passed away on April 17, 2008 in Fort-de-France. In 2011, a plaque bearing his name was placed in the Panthéon of Paris, where some of France’s most revered citizens are buried including Victor Hugo, Pierre and Marie Curie, Victor Shoelcher, Jean Moulin and André Malraux.
Aimé Césaire was a true champion of people of the Antilles, Africa, and the entire African diaspora. His words and his voice left a profound impression on all people, and his life serves as an inspiration to artists and activists around the world.
For more on the Bench by the Road project visit www.tonimorrisonsociety.org
MARTINIQUE CELEBRATES AIME CESAIRE CENTENNIAL
Special events planned throughout 2013 to commemorate the life of Martinique’s famed poet and politician
NEW YORK, NY (February 4th, 2013) – The life and eternal contributions of famed poet, playwright and politician, Aimé Césaire, will be celebrated throughout his home island of Martinique in 2013, the centennial anniversary of his birth. Césaire, who passed away in April 2008 at the age of 94, is widely hailed as a principal crusader for civil rights within the French West Indies, both through his writings and in his 55 years serving as the Mayor of Fort-de-France.
“Papa Césaire represents hope, equality, love and respect – the best of the human condition – not just for citizens of Martinique, but for people all over the world,” said Muriel Wiltord, director Americas for the Martinique Promotion Bureau /CMT USA. “His writings, teachings and enduring leadership continue to inspire the French-speaking world on the same level as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X in the United States. In this, the centennial year of his birth, we are proud to celebrate Césaire’s legacy, keeping his message alive for future generations.”
Born in Basse-Pointe, Martinique in 1913, Césaire moved to Paris in 1931 on an educational scholarship. It was there that he created the literary review L’Étudiant Noir (The Black Student). This would serve as the forerunner to “la negritude,” the artistic and cultural movement founded by Césaire to encourage black youths to maintain a positive racial identity. In 1939 he returned to Martinique and was elected Mayor of Fort-de-France in 1945, a post he held through 2001, except for a brief period in 1983-84.
In recognition of his great contributions to Martinique and French society, Martinique’s International Airport was renamed Martinique Aimé Césaire International Airport in his honor in January 2007.
The Caribbean island with French flair, The Isle of Flowers, The Rum Capital of the World, The Isle of the Famed Poet (Aimé Césaire) – by any one of its many names Martinique remains one of the most alluring and enchanting destinations in the world. It was named “Top Caribbean Island for Delectable Dining” in 2009 by Caribbean Travel + Life, and “Best Caribbean Destination” (2010) by About.com. The bay of Fort-de-France, the capital city, is among the most beautiful bays of the world. Martinique is an overseas region of France that stirs the passions with distinctive culinary delights, awe-inspiring natural beauty, a rich cultural history, warm smiles and so much more. Napoleon’s bride, Empress Josephine, was born and raised in Martinique. The Majestic Mt. Pelée volcano and St. Pierre, The Pompeii of the Caribbean, are found here. Martinique also offers a dynamic art scene and a wide array of local products. A special place, to be sure, with so much to offer – Martinique c’est magnifique!