By: Siwar Bandar, ADC Communications Coordinator
Washington, DC | May 10, 2006 | Since his passing, fans of Gibran Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931) have called for a fitting tribute to the poet, author, artist, and philosopher, who remains one of the most renowned figures in the world literary landscape. For Arab Americans and Arabs daunted by political, financial and social uncertainty, Gibran holds a valuable place as the immigrant voice in America. Arab Americans and Arabs have long ago claimed Gibran’s achievements as their own, proudly holding his life and works close to their hearts.
Perhaps this protective emotional engulfing has to do partly with Gibran’s own quest to belong. Early on in his childhood, the Lebanese born poet was rendered homeless after his father was sent to prison for tax evasion, and his property was impounded. Shortly thereafter, the family emigrated to Boston’s South End, where non-English speaking Gibran was told he should Anglicize his name, and refer to himself simply as Kahlil Gibran.
For these reasons and more, Arab-American and Arab families everywhere have adopted the poet. In return, Gibran proclaimed to them “Young Americans of Syrian origin, I believe in you.” It seems other families have also embraced the poet. His best known work, “The Prophet” has sold over 8 million copies and has been translated into 50 languages, making it one of the most widely published in the world. His other works include “Broken Wings,” “The Madman,” “A Tear and a Smile,” among many others.
In 1991, the Kahlil Gibran Centennial Foundation finally completed the Gibran Kahlil Gibran Memorial Garden in Washington, DC. ADC President Hon. Mary Rose Oakar, then serving in the US House of Representatives, presided over the House Administration Committee, which voted unanimously to approve the resolution providing land for the memorial.
Most recently there has been a petition to commemorate Gibran Kahlil Gibran on a US postage stamp. Increasingly the movement has gathered more support, as friends and scholars have stressed the importance of Gibran’s contribution to American modern heritage, as well as world literature. In light of the growing negative sentiments and distrust being directed at the Arab-American and Arab communities, Gibran’s works and life serve as an eloquent reminder of the diversity and depth of all immigrant communities.
The American Committee for Kahlil Gibran Stamp was formed by Mr. Robert Andrews and others in 1987. Almost 30 years later, they are still under consideration by the Postal Service, which receives about 50,000 subject requests, and awards only 25 commemorative stamps per year.
The stamp committee selects its awardees two years in advance. Therefore, any efforts you can contribute to this cause in 2006 are very much appreciated.
The Kahlil Gibran Memorial Foundation’s mailing address is: 4628 Newcomb Place, Alexandria, VA 22304