Posted by on January 29, 2013 in Blog

By Jade Zoghbi

2013 Spring Intern

The Lebanese American poet Kahlil Gibran revolutionized Arab American culture and made a significant contribution to the American ethos with his distinguished artistry, eloquently bridging the many identities of East and West. Gibran was one of many Arab American artists who introduced and built on the Arab immigrant literary tradition. Hence, his published writings, drawings, and sculptures have inspired individuals worldwide, some of whom came together recently for the 130th celebration of his birth. In the cozy atmosphere of Busboys and Poets, where themes of social change and justice echo on its painted walls, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) hosted the “Fingerprints of Khalil Gibran on Contemporary Arts” event last Friday to commemorate Gibran’s history, and share how his legacy lives on in contemporary society. 

This modern society proudly champions the spirits of cultural pluralism and ethnic diversity. In the commitment of these ideals, every individual can benefit from Gibran’s lessons on justice, coexistence, unity, and peace. After all, Lebanese American poet has been a central literary figure and spiritual influence to many Arab Americans, Arabs and other international intellectuals.

Originally from the village of Bsharri in Lebanon, Gibran grew up as a poor Christian, but nurtured the riches of his inner spirit as he continued his career in the United States. There, he continued to pay respect to the Islamic arts, upheld values of humanitarian and social causes, and lived by fostering understanding between different groups.

At the ADC event, the Lebanese-American scholar Dr. Edmund Ghareeb provided a historical overview of Gibran’s life, the significance the artist has played in his own life, and that of the contemporary arts. He notes that Americans are increasingly becoming aware of Gibran’s legacy, but he remains unrecognized in the curriculum of American institutions, for the cultural education and spiritual lessons with which he has enriched the minds and hearts of people.

Filmmaker Walid Jaward presented sections of his self-produced documentary, “Tracing the Footsteps of Gibran,” in which he literally travels to the places where Gibran resided in the United States. Also, Kinda Hibrawi, an American artist of Syrian descent, expressed her admiration of Gibran’s works, interpreted in her artworks in which the themes of unity, diversity, and harmony are reflected. Hibrawi said she was inspired by his humanitarian efforts, and she was especially joyful that her exhibition appealed and spoke to a variety of individuals from all backgrounds.

The evening ended with a powerful performance of spoken word by ADC intern Norhan Basuni, in response to Kahlil Gibran’s work “Let these be your desires,” which was followed by an intimate narrative about Lara Aburamadan whose life story in Gaza city once again resonated with Gibran’s words, according to which humanity is the only citizenship which will always triumph. 

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