Photojournalist + Editorial Photographer



The Death of Fidel Castro

It was 12:40 am on November the 26th when the alert that Fidel Castro had died lit up my phone. Within 15 minutes my newsfeed on multiple social media platforms were saturated with the news. Growing up in South Florida pretty much guarantees that there will be no degrees of separation between you and someone you know that has been affected by the reign of Fidel Castro, so I shouldn't have been surprised by what happened next.

People started to gather.

Without even knowing how long it would last, if I could make it there on time, where "there" even was, or the magnitude of attendance; I threw my hair in a bun, put on some sneakers, grabbed my equipment, and left without even considering telling anyone where I was going. All I knew was that even the smallest reaction from a community, after news like this broke, was going to be historic. And man, did I underestimate Miami. Over the years i've documented a great deal of gatherings and protests, so I know what goes into the planning of one. From choosing the locations, to how they will get the word out. It's a serious process. So when I express my amazement when I turned the corner and reached Versaillies Restaurant, where the police had already shutdown an entire block, and the crowd was no longer a crowd, it was now the masses, a parade even, know that i'm not exaggerating. I couldn't believe it. The celebrating went on for hours. The restaurant never closed. The cuban coffee kept coming, and every time I turned around I was face to face with a new individuals emotion. They had no time to notify people, no time to make signs, or buy flags, or even make the decision to do this. And yet it happened. People were showing up as if this had been the plan all along. It is that alone that has helped me understand just who Fidel Castro was to so many of them. That celebrating was unanimous. That celebrating was immediate.  And that celebrating was their healing. 

"Live in such a way that when you die no one celebrates your passing." 

Emilee McGovern Protection Status