May 4, 2023 -CNW News -As the first country in the Caribbean and the second country in the Western Hemisphere to earn its independence, Haiti set the template for slave rebellions across the region.
To this day, the 1791 Haitian slave rebellion remains the only successful slave revolt in history. This spirit of rebellion is just one of the many contributions Haitian culture has made to not just Caribbean people, but Black people throughout the western hemisphere.
Haitian Heritage Month, celebrated every May, is our collective opportunity to celebrate all aspects of Haitian culture. First celebrated in 1998 in Boston, Massachusetts, the concept of Haitian Heritage Week spread throughout the country, finding a special home in South Florida amidst its sizable Haitian immigrant population. What started as a celebration of Haitian Flag Day, a festival where Haitians everywhere celebrate the flag and the struggle for independence it symbolizes, has evolved into a nationally recognized occasion.
A Few Notable Haitians
Although many Haitians have made a profound impact across the globe, here are just a few notable Haitians to remember this Haitian Heritage Month.
Jean-Michel Basquiat was a Brooklyn native who grew up tagging the streets of New York. While a picture is worth a thousand words, Basquiat would often attach a short poem to his work, decrying the oppression of minorities and the underprivileged. His art made an impression on both the traditional art world and the contemporary one.
Wyclef Jean is a man who does it all. A Grammy-winning rapper and producer, talented actor, and noted philanthropist, Wyclef Jean migrated to the United States at just nine years old. As part of the Fugees, he played a role in crafting one of the best-selling albums of all time in The Score (1966). In 2007, Jean was appointed Ambassador-at-Large of the Republic of Haiti and in 2010 even tried his hand at running for president of the country, but was not allowed on a technicality.
Gary Victor is a playwright, novelist, and radio play director whose scathing criticisms of the bourgeoisie earned him equal parts fame and derision. His work is uncompromisingly Haitian, telling the stories of Haitian history, Haitian culture, and modern Haitian life. His seminal works include Soro and Clair De Mando.
Haitian Heritage Month Events in South Florida
There are many Haitian Heritage Month events happening in every city throughout South Florida. Here are just a few to consider putting on your list of must do events this month.
Visit the Haitian Heritage Museum in Miami
Founded in 2004 to commemorate Haiti’s bicentennial, the Haitian Heritage Museum is one of the premiere touchstones to connect with Haitian art and artifacts, and dive into the rich history of the country’s audio/visual work. During heritage month, the museum goes all out for its exhibits. On Saturdays this month, local drumming groups and poets will perform, providing a first-hand experience of Haitian culture.
Celebrate Haitian Flag Day
Haitian Flag Day is the day that kicked off Haitian Heritage Month in the first place. Celebrated by Haitians all over the world, May 18 commemorates the adoption of the Haitian flag in 1803. Flag Day is observed to remember the struggles of Haitian ancestors in securing the country’s freedom.
Go to the Haitian Compas Festival
The Haitian Compas Festival starts on Flag Day, May 18th, and finishes on Sunday, the 21st, and will be held at Bayfront Park in Miami . Five events will be held across the four days, featuring renowned Haitian musical acts such as NUlook, Oswald, Kodak Black, DJ Bullet, Tony Mix, and many more.