Salutations to the Haitian community of Palm Beach County. Again, as we do each year in May, we acknowledge and recognize those in the present and those in the past that have brought the emphasis on the fact that people of color are not only through history to now have been highly motivated intellectually and have excelled in all areas of the Arts, Music, Science, Politics, Business, et al completely to the full spectrum of human interest and ability.
Several events will take place to celebrate Haitian Heritage Month again this year in Palm Beach County. The month-long series of activities include a Multicultural Festival at the Delray Beach Tennis Center, the Fourth Annual Celebrate LIFE with HOPE in Belle Glades, a book festival at the Greenacres Library on Saturday May 17, and several presentations to follow districtwide. This year again, the traditional student essay contest sponsored by Gaskov Clergé Foundation is taking place. Visit http://www.palmbeachschools.org/pao/creole/MwaEritajAyisyen.asp.
“Our goal is to build up the self-esteem of all Haitians, share our wonderful history and culture with the communities where we live and highlight our contributions to the history of the world,” said Bito David, the initiator of the celebration in Palm Beach County in 2003.
The School District of Palm Beach County partners with the Palm Beach County Library System and Toussaint L’Ouverture High School for Arts and Social Justice to coordinate these events. Haitian and Haitian American students represent the largest ethnic minority group from a single country in the School District of Palm Beach County with about 14,000 students. According to community activists, Palm Beach County is home to more than 90,000 Haitians.
(See list below of three outstanding historical figures of Haitian Heritage)
REF: SDPBC (Press Release) Public Affairs Office, April 2014
W. E. B. Du Bois
William Edward Burghardt "W. E. B." Du Bois (pronounced /duːˈbɔɪz/ doo-boyz; February 23, 1868 – August 27, 1963) was an American sociologist, historian, civil rights activist, Pan-Africanist, author and editor. Born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, Du Bois grew up in a relatively tolerant and integrated community (DuBois’ father was actually born in Haiti and lived in that Country until his youth. W.E.B. DuBois was a child of the Haitian Revolution). After graduating from Harvard, where he was the first African American to earn a doctorate, he became a professor of history, sociology and economics at Atlanta University. Du Bois was one of the co-founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909.
Du Bois rose to national prominence as the leader of the Niagara Movement, a group of African-American activists who wanted equal rights for blacks. Du Bois and his supporters opposed the Atlanta Compromise, an agreement crafted by Booker T. Washington which provided that Southern blacks would work and submit to white political rule, while Southern whites guaranteed that blacks would receive basic educational and economic opportunities. Instead, Du Bois insisted on full civil rights and increased political representation, which he believed would be brought about by the African-American intellectual elite. He referred to this group as the talented tenth and believed that African Americans needed the chances for advanced education to develop its leadership.
Racism was the main target of Du Bois's polemics, and he strongly protested against lynching, Jim Crow laws, and discrimination in education and employment. His cause included people of color everywhere, particularly Africans and Asians in their struggles against colonialism and imperialism. He was a proponent of Pan-Africanism and helped organize several Pan-African Congresses to free African colonies from European powers. Du Bois made several trips to Europe, Africa and Asia. After World War I, he surveyed the experiences of American black soldiers in France and documented widespread bigotry in the United States military.
Du Bois was a prolific author. His collection of essays, The Souls of Black Folk, was a seminal work in African-American literature; and his 1935 magnum opus Black Reconstruction in America challenged the prevailing orthodoxy that blacks were responsible for the failures of the Reconstruction era. He wrote the first scientific treatise in the field of sociology; and he published three autobiographies, each of which contains insightful essays on sociology, politics and history. In his role as editor of the NAACP's journal The Crisis, he published many influential pieces. Du Bois believed that capitalism was a primary cause of racism, and he was generally sympathetic to socialist causes throughout his life. He was an ardent peace activist and advocated nuclear disarmament. The United States' Civil Rights Act, embodying many of the reforms for which Du Bois had campaigned his entire life, was enacted a year after his death.
PHOTO: Sites of Haiti
François-Dominique Toussaint Louverture
François-Dominique Toussaint Louverture, also Toussaint L'Ouverture, Toussaint-Louverture, Toussaint Bréda, nicknamed The Black Napoleon (20 May 1743 – 7 April 1803), was the leader of the Haitian Revolution. His military genius and political acumen transformed an entire society of slaves into the independent state of Haiti. The success of the Haitian Revolution shook the institution of slavery throughout the New World.
Toussaint Louverture began his military career as a leader of the 1791 slave rebellion in the French colony of Saint Domingue; he was by then a free black man. Initially allied with the Spaniards of neighboring Santo Domingo, Toussaint switched allegiance to the French when they abolished slavery. He gradually established control over the whole island and used political and military tactics to gain dominance over his rivals. Throughout his years in power, he worked to improve the economy and security of Saint Domingue. He restored the plantation system using paid labour, negotiated trade treaties with Britain and the United States, and maintained a large and well-disciplined army.
In 1801 he promulgated an autonomist constitution for the colony, with himself as governor for life. In 1802 he was forced to resign by forces sent by Napoleon Bonaparte to restore French authority in the former colony. He was deported to France, where he died in 1803.
PHOTO: Sites of Haiti
Henri Christophe (who used the anglicized version of Henry Christopher) (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.
After Dessalines was assassinated, Christophe retreated to the Plaine-du-Nord and created a separate government. On 17 February 1807, he was elected President of the State of Haiti, as he named that area. Alexandre Pétion was elected president in the South. On 26 March 1811, Christophe created a kingdom in the North and had himself proclaimed Henry I, King of Haïti. He also created a nobility and named his legitimate son Jacques-Victor Henry as prince and heir.
He is known for constructing the Citadelle Laferrière, the Sans-Souci Palace, and numerous other palaces. Under his policies of corvee, or forced labor, the Kingdom earned revenues from agricultural production, primarily the commodity of sugar, but the people resented the system. He reached agreement with Great Britain to respect its Caribbean colonies in exchange for their warning his government of any French navy activity threatening Haiti. Unpopular, ill and fearing a coup, he committed suicide. His son and heir was assassinated 10 days later. The general Jean-Pierre Boyer came to power and reunited the two parts of Haiti.
PHOTO: Sites of Haiti