During the reign of Paul Magloire, Haiti was featured on the Feb 22, 1954 cover of TIME magazine.
Bonus: Little known fact, the country still has the passion, the culture, the colors and the music. Here’s hoping for the Platinum Age.
During the reign of Paul Magloire, Haiti was featured on the Feb 22, 1954 cover of TIME magazine.
Bonus: Little known fact, the country still has the passion, the culture, the colors and the music. Here’s hoping for the Platinum Age.
Henri Christophe who is one of the most admired heroes of Haiti, (6 October 1767 – 8 October 1820) was a former slave and key leader in the Haitian Revolution, which succeeded in gaining independence from France in 1804. In 1805 he took part under Jean-Jacques Dessalines in the invasion of Santo Domingo (now Dominican Republic) against French forces, and was documented as killing hundreds of Dominicans, including prisoners.
In this article written by Forgotten Newmakers
Henri Christophe learned everything he knew from experience. A Negro born into a slave family on the island of Grenada, he never went to school and was illiterate his whole life. His life’s purpose was to eradicate slavery and build Haiti into a strong country, and the slave boy who would be king took seriously the power and perks that came with the job. Christophe was a rambunctious kid. At age seven the plantation owner turned his unchanneled energy into profit when he sold the boy to a Negro mason as an apprentice. Christophe ran away from his master and stowed away on a boat bound for the island of Saint Domingue (now Haiti). At age twelve, Christophe ended up the servant of a French naval officer, hired to oil his boots and serve his meals. This job took him north to America where Christophe fought with the French in the Siege of Savannah before returning to Haiti where he was again sold to a free Negro who owned a hotel. The ambitious young man moved up from stable boy to cook, waiter and billiard marker. He saved enough money to buy his freedom. When Christophe was 26 years old he married the boss’s daughter, Marie Louise, who was only 15. They had two sons and two daughters.
Jean Léon Destiné, master Haitian dancer, choreographer and drummer, died on January 22, 2013.According to The New York Times:
Jean-Léon Destiné, a Haitian dancer and choreographer who brought his country’s traditional music and dance to concert stages around the world, died on Jan. 22 at his home in Manhattan. He was 94.
His family confirmed the death.
Considered the father of Haitian professional dance, Mr. Destiné first came to international attention in the 1940s and remained prominent for decades afterward. As a dancer, he performed well into old age. In 2003, reviewing a program at Symphony Space in New York in which he appeared, Anna Kisselgoff wrote in The New York Times that Mr. Destiné’s number stopped the show. She added, “He looked agile and nuanced, mesmerizing in a bent-legged solo.” As a choreographer, he directed own ensemble, which came to be known as the Destiné Afro-Haitian Dance Company. The company, which presented work from throughout the Caribbean, was devoted in particular to dances from Haiti. Accompanied by vibrant drumming — Mr. Destiné collaborated for many years with the distinguished Haitian drummer Alphonse Cimber — these dances were often infused with elements of voodoo tradition.
As reviewers noted, Mr. Destiné and company could dance, to all appearances, as if possessed. Much of Mr. Destiné’s work also functioned as commentary on Haiti’s legacy of colonialism and slavery. In “Slave Dance,” a solo piece he choreographed and performed, the dancer begins in bondage only to emerge, in astonished joy, a free man.
In “Bal Champêtre” (“Country Ball”), among the most famous works choreographed by Mr. Destiné, the foppish customs of Haiti’s French colonists are satirized through sly subervsions of a Baroque minuet. In the United States, Mr. Destiné was seen on Broadway; at the New York City Opera, where in 1949 he was a featured dancer in the world premiere of William Grant Still’s “Troubled Island,” set in Haiti; and, as a performer and teacher, with the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Becket, Mass. He also taught at New York University and elsewhere.
Jean-Léon Destiné was born on March 26, 1918, in Saint-Marc, Haiti, to a middle-class family: his father was a local government official, his mother a seamstress. After his parents divorced when he was a boy, he moved with his mother to the capital, Port-au-Prince, where they lived in reduced circumstances. From a very early age, Jean-Léon was captivated by Haitian music and drumming. As a youth, he learned traditional dance by attending the religious rituals and other celebrations of which it had long been an integral part. He also sang in the folkloric ensemble directed by Lina Mathon Blanchet, a prominent Haitian musician.
In the 1940s, the young Mr. Destiné received a Rockefeller Foundation scholarship to study printing and journalism in the United States. After taking classes at Howard University in Washington, he moved to New York, where he learned to operate and maintain linotype machines, then used to cast type for printing newspapers other publications.Mr. Destiné, who eventually became an American citizen, also continued dancing. In the late ’40s he spent several years with the company of Katherine Dunham, considered the matriarch of black dance in the United States.With Ms. Dunham’s company, he danced on Broadway in the revue “Bal Negre” at the Belasco Theater in 1946. Returning to Haiti for a time in the late ’40s, Mr. Destiné founded a national dance company there at the behest of the Haitian government. By the early ’50s he had established his own company in New York. Mr. Destiné’s survivors include three sons, Gérard, Ernest and Carlo, as well as grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Jacques Stephen Alexis (Gonaïves, Haiti, 22 April 1922–Mole St-Nicolas, Haiti, c. 22 April 1961) was a Haitian communistnovelist. He is best known for his novels Compère Général Soleil (1955), Les Arbres Musiciens (1957), and L’Espace d’un Cillement (1959), and for his collection of short stories, Romancero aux Etoiles (1960).
In 1955, his novel Compère Général Soleil, was published by Gallimard in Paris. The novel has been translated into English as General Sun, My Brother, and is a must-read for all those with an interest in understanding Haiti.He followed up with “Les Arbres Musiciens” (1957), L’Espace d’un Cillement (1959), and “Romanceros aux Etoiles” (1960).
More than just an intellectual, Jacques Stephen Alexis was also an active participant in the social and political debates of his time. In 1959, he formed the People’s Consensus Party (Parti pour l’Entente Nationale-PEP), a left-wing political party, but he was forced into exile by the Duvalier dictatorship. In August 1960, he attended a Moscow meeting of representatives of 81 communist parties from all over the world, and signed a common accord document called “The Declaration of the 81″ in the name of Haitian communists
In April 1961, he returned to Haiti, but soon after landing at Mole St Nicholas he was captured by Tontons Macoutes. He was taken to the town’s main square where he was tortured and then put on a boat to Port-au-Prince he was never seen again. Later his death was confirmed by an obscure notice in the government newspaper buried on page 14. – source
Jacques-Stephen Alexis was born on April 22, 1922, in Gonaives. His father, Stephen Alexis, was a renowned journalist who penned Nègre masqué (Masked Negro) in 1933. Since his father was stationed as a diplomat in Europe, the young Alexis studied at Collège Stanislas in Paris. Once the family returned to Haiti, Alexis resumed his studies and graduated from one of Haiti’s top schools, Collège Saint-Louis de Gonzague. Though he began to study medicine, Alexis turned his attention to writing and political organizing.
By the 1940′s, he met and worked with other engaged Communist writers and thinkers, such as Jacques Roumain and Nicolás Guillén (one of Cuba’s most celebrated poets); and in 1946, he founded an opposition literary group and journal, La Ruche. For his part, as a leader in Haiti’s Communist Party who organized against the election of President Dumarsais Estimé, Alexis was imprisoned.
He fled to Europe, where he lived in exile for several years, while he completed his advanced studies in medicine (with a concentration in neurology) and wrote his first influential novel, Compère Général Soleil (General Sun, My Brother). The novel, which won instant acclaim, told the story of a Haitian man who navigates life in Port-au-Prince, from a troubled childhood as a restavèk to a hopeful adulthood shaped by his reckoning in prison. One of the main contributions of Compère Général Soleil was its elaborate and eloquent descriptions of Haitian life in the 1930′s, under the American Occupation and the brutal massacre of thousands of Haitians in the Dominican Republic.
Alexis, like many of his contemporaries, was active on the global stage. His attended the 1956 First Congress of Black Writers and Artists in Paris and became a member of the Union of Soviet Writers in 1959. During this time, he completed several works, including the 1957 Les Arbres musiciens, L’Espace d’un cillement in 1959 and Romancero aux étoiles in 1960. As Francois Duvalier consolidated power during Alexis’ most productive years, he would become a target for his speaking out against the repressive regime, both at home and abroad.
In 1961, Alexis traveled to China. He was invited to meet with China’s renowned Communist leader, Mao Zedong, in an effort to strengthen the global ties of the Communist Party, which gained a steadfast wing in Cuba. Once he returned from China, Alexis’ plans to travel home via Cuba proved unsuccessful.
Upon his secret return to Haiti from Cuba, Alexis, along with his travel companions, were captured, tortured and killed. Though his death was never officially recognized by the government, Alexis remains one of Haiti’s towering figures, as his work and struggle for equality influenced his peers and future generations of writers and activists.
On March, 11, 2011, we mourn the loss of one of Haiti’s literary fore mothers who died of a heart attack at the age of 84.
According to MsMagazne:
Paulette Poujol-Oriol, who died March 11 at age 84, left her birth country, Haiti, a legacy that is immeasurable. She was one of Haiti’s most ardent feminist leaders, as well as an unmatched cultural producer and worker.
She was born in Port-au-Prince on May 12, 1926 to Joseph Poujol, founder of the Commercial Institute, and Augusta Auxila, a homemaker. The family migrated to France when she was eight months old. Poujol-Oriol spent six formative years in Paris, where her parents were engaged in the worlds of commerce, education and theater. She credited this time in Paris as instrumental to her development as a renaissance woman. Poujol-Oriol began her school studies at the École Normale Supérieure in Port-au-Prince, then went on to Jamaica where she attended the London Institute of Commerce and Business Administration. She started to teach at her father’s institute at the age of 16. With additional studies in education, she dedicated herself to teaching, but never stopped her own learning. In addition to being fluent in French, Kreyol and Spanish, she eventually learned and mastered English, Italian and German.
Jean-Fernand Brierre (23 September 1909 – 1992) was a Haitian poet. Born in Jérémie, Brierre worked as a politician and diplomat. He is recognized “as one of the most brilliant Haitian writers.” Poet, dramatist, and Haiti’s ambassador to Argentina.
He emerged in the 1930s as a poet and militant in the backlash against the American Occupation (1915-34).
His thundering epic verse celebrated the heroes of Haitian independence and the black race. His Black Soul (1947) and La Source (1956) are well-known Haitian examples of the poetry of négritude. – wikipedia
Jean-Fernand Brierre’s famous 1947 poem, Black Soul, became one of Haiti’s most renowned contributions to the global Negritude movement. Excerpts of the prolific narrative poem appear in numerous collections, including the celebrated, Anthologie de la nouvelle poesie negre et malgache de francaise, edited by Senegal’s first President, Léopold Sédar Senghor. Back home, Brierre was an active leader in the resistance against the American occupation. And by 1930, when he published his first major work, In the Citadel’s Heart, Brierre became a prominent voice that articulated the nation’s struggle for sovereignty and dignity.
Fear is a vice that takes root. Once its cultivated, it takes time to heal from it. — Marie Vieux Chauvet’s “Amour, colère et folie”
Marie Vieux Chauvet (1916–1973) was a Haitian novelist. Born and educated in Port-au-Prince, her most famous works were the novels Fille d’Haïti (1954), La Danse sur le Volcan (1957), Fonds des Nègres (1961), and Amour, Colère, Folie (1969). The trilogy Amour, Colère, Folie was published by Gallimard press in Paris with the support of Simone de Beauvoir. The trilogy was perceived as an attack on the Haitian despot François Duvalier. Fearing the dictator’s legions of Tonton Macoutes, her husband bought all the copies of the book he could find in Haiti, and Chauvet’s daughters bought the remaining copies from Gallimard in Paris a few years later. She died in the United States of America. – wikipedia
Since his untimely death in 1988, the art world has endured a maddening obsession with Haitian Puerto Rican-American Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat?. In the latest installment of all things SAMO-related, Gagosian Gallery‘s new exhibition examines over 50 works from the Haitian-American art star.
New York’s Gagosian Gallery presents a major Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibit, opening this week in Chelsea. With more than 50 works being shown, the anticipated show takes the viewer through the late American artist’s influential career. During his 27-year life (Basqiat died in 1988), the Brooklyn-born artist broke cultural ground with his Neo-Expressionist visual style and various other passions, including music, poetry, politics, and history. This fusion set the stage for what was to come in the language of contemporary art.
Self-taught and charismatic, at age 15 Basquiat ran away from his Brooklyn family home and into New York’s underground art scene. He did some graffiti and started painting, often using found and scavenged materials. By the time of 1982′s Neo-Expressionist art boom, Basquiat was a hot commodity. In his early 20s he appeared, the bastion of downtown cool, on the cover of The New York Times Magazine. Everything bled into and inspired everything else. For example, he had a band, collaborated with Andy Warhol, and appeared as a DJ in Blondie’s 1981 “Rapture” video—the first rap song to top the Billboard Hot 100 charts. (He also had an affair with Madonna.) Dichotomies are prevalent in Basquiat’s work, and he’d often saunter around town sporting paint-splattered Armani suits. He was known to combine opposing aesthetic forces, always somehow finding the beauty of the tension between them: graffiti and fine art techniques, emotion and intellect, instinct and urban culture. Like jazz, much of his work is ignited with a sense of seemingly unrelated moments—words, images, and primitive symbols—suddenly and surprisingly coming together as a unified force with powerful, relevant new meaning.
This Gagosian exhibition marks the 30-year point since gallerist Larry Gagosian first showed Basquiat’s work. In 1992-93, the Whitney Museum of American Art did a posthumous Basquiat exhibition, and more recently, the Brooklyn Museum of Art showed a retrospective in 2005.
The Gagosian exhibit opens this Thursday, February 7 (6 p.m.) and runs through April 6. Mark your calendars. 555 West 24th St., 212-741-1111
Jean Price-Mars (b. 15 October 1876; d. 1 March 1969), born in Grande Rivière du Nord, was a Haitian teacher, diplomat, writer, and ethnographer. Price-Mars served as secretary of the Haitian legation in Washington (1909) and as chargé d’affaires in Paris (1915–1917). In 1922 he completed medical studies that he had given up for lack of a scholarship.
After withdrawing as a candidate for the presidency of Haiti in favor of Stenio Vincent in 1930, Price-Mars led Senate opposition to the new president and was forced out of politics. In 1941, he was again elected to the Senate. He was secretary of state for external relations in 1946 and, later, ambassador to the Dominican Republic. In his eighties, he continued service as Haitian ambassador at the United Nations and ambassador to France.
Jean Price-Mars was one of foremost intellectuals in the African diaspora. As a member of Haiti’s establishment, he consistently challenged the affluent class to acknowledge the culture of Haiti’s masses. Price-Mars played a major role in the global Negritude movement, and Haiti’s literary renaissance after the American occupation. His 1928 ethnological study, Ainsi parla l’oncle, was a tour de force — it was a definitive argument for the nature and African origins of the Haitian identity.
Price-Mars was born on October 15, 1876 in Grande Rivière-du-Nord, Haiti. He was raised by his religious Catholic grandmother, and a tolerant Protestant father. Mars took charge of his son’s elementary schooling and instilled in him an appreciation for Haitian folklore, told in the mother tongue. For secondary education, Price-Mars attended Lycée Grégoire du Cap-Haïtien and Lycée Pétion in Port-au-Prince. In 1899, Price-Mars received a scholarship to study medicine in Paris (which he would finish 22 years later). He studied social sciences at the Sorbonne, Collège de France and Musée du Trocadéro.
Soon thereafter, he became a diplomat for the Haitian government. It was then he began to use “Price” in honor of Haitian poet Hannibal Price. His numerous missions in Europe would enable him to study African traditions, and engage in passionate race theory discussions with other black intellectuals and writers from the Negritude Movement — and it’s American wing, the Harlem Renaissance.
He began to manifest a loathing for the Western ideology and excesses of Haiti’s elite, in first major text, La vocation d’elite (The Vocation of the Elite), published in 1919. Then in 1928, he produced the ground-breaking tome, Ainsi parla l’oncle (So Spoke the Uncle). It was first ethnological study of the broader Haitian population’s culture and language. Written in eloquent historic prose, Ainsi parla l’oncle affirmed that Haitians were not “colored French people” — they had a distinct African heritage and black identity. His work, written during the US Occupation (from 1915 to 1934), had a profound impact in the development of a nationalist agenda and Haitian pride.
Price-Mars played a major role in developing the study of the humanities in Haiti. In 1941, he founded the Institute of Ethnology, where he served as chair of sociology and Africana studies until 1947. On the global stage, his work resonated with other leading black figures, like Aimé Césaire and W.E.B. Du Bois, seeking to dismantle the structures of racism in their home countries. In 1956, Price-Mars was unanimously elected as president of the First Congress of Black Writers and Artists held in Paris — that same year, he became the president of the Society of African Culture, founded at UNESCO. And in 1966, Price-Mars was invited to Senegal by President Léopold Senghor, where he received an honorary doctoral degree from the University of Dakar.
A man before his time, Price-Mars remains just as relevant today. He blazed trails for the scientific study and complete embrace of black cultures, as a model for understanding all cultures. And he advocated we did so, using our language, practicing our religion and telling our stories.
“…Nothing can prevent tales, legends, songs come from afar or transformed, created by us, from being a part of ourselves revealed to ourselves…They constitute in a surprising and remarkable way the fundamentals of our spiritual unity. Where, therefore, can one find a more authentic image of our society?”
For black history month I am going to do my best to continuously feature Haitian people who contributed to the advancement of people of African descent.
Ertha Pascal-Trouillot (born August 13, 1943) was the provisional President of Haiti from 1990 through 1991. She was the first woman in Haitian history to hold that office. Her father, Thimocles, was an iron worker, and died when she was young. Her mother Louise (née Dumornay) was a seamstress and embroiderer. Pascal-Trouillot was the 9th of 10 children and when she was 10, she and one of her brothers went to the Lycée François Duvalier and was mentored by her future husband, Ernst Trouillot, who was 21 years her senior. In 1971, she received her law degree from the École de Droit des Gonaives in Port-au-Prince. From 1975 through 1988, she held various positions as a judge in the Haitian federal courts until she became the first woman justice of the Haitian Supreme Court.
Pascal-Trouillot was chief justice when she temporarily became Haïti’s first female president on March 13, 1990 following a revolt that overthrew the government run by Prosper Avril. General Herard Abraham remained in charge for three days and then transferred the power to Ertha Trouillot. As provisional head, her job was to coordinate the transition to democracy with the Council of State, which had veto power over her. She oversaw the first truly free elections in Haiti on December 16, 1990 (Haitian general election, 1990–1991), which Jean-Bertrand Aristide won with 67% of the vote.
According to Haitian Times:
Jean Léopold Dominique was born to an affluent family in Haiti. Dominique was educated in agronomy in France and Haiti. In a country where one’s standing could be measured by the lightness of skin, a mixed-race agronomist from a well-to-do family was not the norm. During his formative years, Dominique worked with rural farmers; his fervent advocacy for their plight landed him in jail — an experience that would shape his politics and help define a generation’s fight against oppression. Dominique would become one of Haiti’s most respected political commentators and a leading activist for democracy.
Prior to the 1960′s, most broadcasts were conducted in French. The colonial tongue was used as a tool to exclude the masses. Dominique began his broadcasting career in the early 60′s with a time-leased commercial program on Radio Haiti, where he introduced the first daily radio program in Haitian Creole.
(A decade later, he purchased the station and changed its name to Radio Haiti Inter). Dominique became a prominent voice in journalism for his political reporting, which included in-depth coverage and analysis of the brutal Duvalier regime. Dominique was also one of the pioneers of Haitian cinema; he founded Haiti’s first film club. He would go on to produce one of Haiti’s first documentaries, But, I Am Beautiful.
Like I’ve mentioned before, My husband and I moved away from my family in South Florida this past summer and still learning to adjust to the changes of being on our own. One of the hardest things I’ve been learning to adjust to is not having my family near during the holidays. It didn’t hit me until New Years eve that I was actually going to spend my new year without my moms Haitian ( independence day) Joumou soup.
Joseph Philippe Lemercier Laroche (May 26, 1886–April 15, 1912) was a Paris-educated Haitian engineer. He was the only known black passenger on the ill-fated voyage of the RMS Titanic.He got his pregnant French wife and their two daughters onto a lifeboat; they survived, but he himself did not.
At the age of 15, he was sent to Beauvais, France to study. After he graduated with an engineering degree, he married Frenchwoman Juliette Lafargue. However, he was unable to find work matching his qualifications due to the color of his skin in a racist society.Tired of living off of his wine seller father-in-law, he decided to return to Haiti with his growing family. His uncle, Cincinnatus Leconte, the President of Haiti,arranged a job for him as a math teacher. His mother purchased first class passage for them aboard the liner La France. When he and his wife learned of the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique‘s policy against children dining with their parents, they exchanged their tickets for a second class passage aboard the Titanic.