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Haitian Heritage Month

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Haitian Heritage Month
The month of May is set aside to celebrate Haitian culture. The celebration of Haitian Heritage month began in 1998 in Boston, Massachusetts. Haitian communities are located all over the United States. There is a large community in Palm Beach Florida, Miami Florida, Orlando Florida, Norwich Connecticut, Atlanta Georgia, Brooklyn New York, Trenton New Jersey, and many other cities.
 Haiti is a special country because it became the first free Black republic in 1804. It emerged in freedom during the height of African slave trade. In Haiti, a slave, Toussaint L’Ouverture, became King.  Haitians were enslaved by French and Spanish Europeans for many years.
Haiti was spotted by Christopher Columbus in 1492 at which time he claimed the tiny island nation for Spain, calling it Hispaniola. Shortly after the Europeans arrived, the indigenous population was decimated by their diseases; the result was a need to import slaves for labor. Thus begins the enslavement of Africans. In 1697, Spain turned Haiti over to France. There were 13 years of revolution which resulted in the overthrow of the French slavers and establishment of the free nation of Haiti. Since that time, Haiti has experienced a great deal of internal turmoil. Haiti has endured corrupt dictators such as” Papa Doc”. They have been devastated by natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes. They continue to endure extreme hardship. Many fled to Florida during these difficult times.   The Red Cross has reported that as many as 50,000 Haitians died in the latest earthquake on January 12, 2010.
During the month of May, Haitians celebrate many significant traditions. May 1st is labor and agriculture day; May 2 is Flower Day, May 15th through May18th, is celebrated as the united black and mulatto officer combined forced to fight for independence in 1830. Toussaint L’Ouverture was born on May 20, 1743. Catholic Haitians, like Catholics everywhere, honor the Virgin Mary during May. Flag Day is celebrated May 18th. They also celebrate Teachers day and Mothers day.
Haitian Heritage month is observed with parades, festivals, school activities, and flag raising ceremonies. These ceremonies are a major part of Haitian culture.
At the present time, the world is focusing on helping Haiti recover from the earthquake disaster. Haitians have always been impoverished due to the racism in the world, but right now they need assistance more than ever. Prior to the earthquake, unemployment was at 85%. Children are routinely sold into slavery for as little as 12.00 US dollars.
 The United States has long practiced a policy of exclusion when it comes to Haitian refugees. Haitians are the only immigrants in the world who are routinely refused entry into the country regardless of circumstances. This is done because of the racist fears of this country of impoverished black people coming in a flood. 
The Obama administration has adopted a more humane policy since the earthquake. Adoptions of Haitian orphans have been fast tracked and deportations are delayed, but past history of the terrible treatment of Haitians by the United States is shameful.
You can see the history of Haiti and the earthquake at this link.
This is a link to the Haitian network group of Detroit. They also have a Haitian history timeline on their website.
 

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