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Happy Haitian Flag Day!

The first Haitian Flag I knew was Black and Red with vertical bars and had the coat of arms in the center.  I remember In 1986 when I was 13, shortly after the departure of Duvalier, the “new” Red and Blue flag with horizontal bars was introduced.  Despite the fact that my parents had been living in the States for 16 years,  their excitement was contagious.  Without knowing a whole lot about Haitian history at the time, I immediately thought the new flag was so much better than the Black and Red one — it looked so much happier and more festive — and it came with a huge celebration.  My parents explained to me that the “new” Haitian flag was actually an old Haitian flag and that Haiti was happy to be rid of the Duvalier dictatorship and the Red and Black flag that represented that era.

Today’s Haitian flag (as described in the 1987 Haitian Constitution, Article 3), has two equal-sized horizontal bands: a blue one on top and a red one underneath.  The coat of arms of the Republic is in the center on a white square.  The coat of arms of the Republic are a Palmette surmounted by the liberty cap, and under the palms a trophy with the legend: L’Union Fait la Force (“In Union there is Strength”).

After doing some research, I learned that Haiti has actually had 9 different variations of the flag in its history.  Here’s a brief recap (courtesy of http://www.haiti.org):

1697:

flag-1697

When Spain formally recognized French control of the western third of the island, until February 1803, the French flag ruled over the French colony of Saint-Domingue. In 1793, Toussaint Louverture, black leader, and precursor to Haiti’s independence, aligned with the French tri-colored flag. In 1801, Louverture is nominated governor of the entire island, and with the Constitution of July 8, 1801 becomes governor for life. In June 1802, Toussaint Louverture is captured by Napoléon Bonaparte and deported to, and jailed in France where he dies.

1803:

flag-1803

Jean-Jacques Dessalines, chief of the black rebels, and Alexandre Pétion, leader of the mulattos, decided in February 1803 to stop fighting alongside the French. Dessalines, on May 18, 1803, removed the white band from the French flag – which was used in Haiti during the French rule, and thereby created the first Haitian flag, symbol of the alliance of blacks and mulattos in their fight for freedom. Dessalines, ordered that the phrase “Freedom or Death” be inscribed on the flag. A relative of his, Catherine Flon, was entrusted with the task of sewing back together the blue (hoist side) and red bands of fabric to form the new Haitian flag.

1804:

flag-1804On November 18, 1803, French troops capitulated in Vertières; Haiti was independent. On January 1, 1804 the generals of the revolution decide to change the flag so that the bands are now horizontal. This is the first flag of the free and independent republic. This new bi-colored flag is confirmed by article 192 of the Constitution of 1843.

1805:

flag-1805

On October 8, 1804, Dessalines proclaimed himself Emperor and took the name Jacques I. On May 20, 1805 he adopted a new flag of two vertical bands; one black, for Death, and one red, for Freedom.

1806:

flag-1806After the assassination of Dessalines at Pont Rouge on October 17, 1806, the country was divided in two for 14 years; the north ruled by Henri Christophe and the south and west ruled by Alexandre Pétion. Pétion immediately reverts to the blue and red flag of 1804, to which he adds the inscription “L’union fait la force” (strength in unity). At the center, the coat of arms of the Republic, adorned with the Phrygian hat (liberty cap), is placed on a white square background. This flag was hoisted at the National Palace for 158 years, until 1964.

1811:

flag-1811On December 27, 1806 General Henri Christophe became president and is recognized in the North, North West, and in 1807, Artibonite Departments. On March 28, 1811, he proclaimed himself king and took the name Henri I (1811-1820). The self-made monarch kept the colors of the imperial flag of the Kingdom of the North (1805), but changed it slightly; red in the hoist and black in the fly with, at the center, a shield with a phoenix under gold five-pointed stars, all on a blue background; the shield bears a crown and the Latin inscription ‘Ex Cineribus Nascitur’ (« From the ashes we will arise »). In 1818, Henri and his kingdom were vanquished by Alexandre Pétion’s conquest of the North. Pétion, who had been proclaimed president on March 19, 1807, imposed the horizontal blue and red flag to the North. On October 8, 1920 he was succeeded by Jean-Pierre Boyer who maintained the same flag.

1822:

flag-1822In February 1822, Jean-Pierre Boyer annexed the Spanish part of the island (present day Dominican Republic), which a few months earlier, on November 30, 1821, had proclaimed its independence from Spain under the name of “Republica del Haiti Espanol” (Spanish Republic of Haiti), as well as declared its alliance with Colombia. The flag of the Spanish Republic of Haiti was raised in the early weeks of 1822, but the new Republic would soon be dissolved by Boyer.

1849:

flag-1849An attempt to reinstate the black and red flag failed in 1844. In 1847, Faustin Soulouque was elected president, but proclaimed himself Emperor under the name Faustin I (1849-1859). The 1849 Constitution kept the blue and red flag but replaced the coat of arms by the shield. The Empire of Faustin I ended on January 15, 1859 and the coat of arms of the Republic regains its original position at the center of the flag.

1964:

flag-1964In 1957, François Duvalier, Papa Doc, was elected president, and in 1960 seized all powers. In 1963, he established a single party system and a new Constitution was adopted on May 25, 1964. The new Constitution returned to the black and red flag, although this time the coat of arms of the Republic remained. This flag became official on June 21, 1964. On April 21, 1971 Duvalier died and was replaced by his son Jean-Claude, who was proclaimed president for life. Following a popular uprising, Jean-Claude was removed from office in February 1986.

1986:

flag-1806On February 17, 1986, 10 days after the departure of Jean-Claude Duvalier, the Haitian nation reverted to the blue and red flag, which was ratified a year later by the official adoption of the March 29, 1987 Constitution.

Today’s Haitian flag has come a long way.  Haitians in Haiti and abroad proudly celebrate it today — join us!  Bring your Haitian flags out and wave them in the air!!

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This post first appeared in the Haitian Times at the following link:

http://haitiantimes.com/6-haitian-women-to-celebrate-for-womens-history-month-10666/

March is Women’s History Month. Take a look at these six Haitian-American women who are sure to earn their place in history for their work in the Haitian community and in their respective fields.

Charlene Bathelus made history in 2012 when she became the youngest Haitian American elected to public office in Elizabeth, NJ. Bathelus, who serves on the Elizabeth school board, is also an active community leader in New Jersey. Bathelus is also the community partnership coordinator for Prevention Links and supervises two local civic groups where she educates the public on the importance of civic engagement and leading a productive and healthy lifestyle.

Executive director of Haiti Cultural Exchange (HCX), Regine Roumainworks tirelessly to promote Haitian culture through her organization. Located in Brooklyn, HCX hosts events ranging from open readings from emerging and celebrated Haitian writers to art exhibitions and live musical performances. Her mission is to bring all realms of Haitian culture to the masses to celebrate it for the beauty it has to offer.

Assemblywoman Kimberly Jean-Pierre was elected in 2014 to the 11th assembly district, which includes Wheatley Heights, Lindenhurst and North Amityville. Jean-Pierre is an active member of the Haitian community. She is the former vice president of Haitian Americans United for Change (HAUC). After the 2010 earthquake, she led a relief team to provide emergency support to those affected by the quake.

Blogging and marketing maven Karen Civil has made a name for herself in the entertainment and hip-hop industry. In 2014, she put her notoriety to work for Haiti when she traveled to Haiti and made a $41,000 donation to build the Live Civil Playground.

Elected in 2013, Valerie Cartright was the first Haitian American elected to office in Suffolk County. She is serving her first term as councilwoman for the Town of Brookhaven.  An attorney by trade, she has an impressive legal career that spans 10 years.

Fabienne Colas is a modern-day Renaissance woman. The actress, director and producer founded the Montreal International Black Film Festival, Canada’s largest black film festival. “Considered by many as the most popular actress in Haitian cinema, Fabienne started out as a model, was crowned Miss Haiti in 2000 and has represented Haiti in numerous beauty contests around the world.”

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By: Militant Barbie, Blogger

October 13, 2014

Source: http://militantbarbie.com/post/99945133850/in-defense-of-history-frederick-douglass-manifesto-to

 

 

arawaks Arawaks were indigenous people of Caribbean islands, such as what is now present-day Haiti and the Dominican Republic

We should not forget that the freedom you and I enjoy to-day; that the freedom that eight hundred thousand colored people enjoy in the British West Indies; the freedom that has come to the colored race the world over, is largely due to the brave stand taken by the black sons, of Haiti ninety years ago.”  -Frederick Douglass’ speech “Lecture on Haiti,” at the 1893 Worlds Columbian Exposition, Chicago.

As I’ve written in other publications, the African-American presence at 19th and 20th century world fairs and expositions, explores an important part of U.S history that didn’t make it into the textbooks. When I first learned about the Atlanta Negro Building, a 25,000 square foot black arts and cultural exhibition space that was the birthplace of the New Negro or Harlem Renaissance movement, I was dumbfounded. How did I, nor most people I asked, not know about this? Since then, the history of black people in world fairs and expositions has led me in many different directions and on this day, the one where we are forced to celebrate yet again, a man who committed the genocide, enslavement and pillage of dozens of indigenous groups in America, (by the way, Happy Columbus Day) it was only fitting that I travel back to another world fair, this time, in  Chicago.

On May 1, 1893, the city hosted the World’s Columbian Exposition to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ “discovery,” of the “New” World. Blanketing more than 600 acres in mostly Jackson Park, the fair attracted many high-powered civil leaders, politicians and tycoons who hoped to bring economic growth and new opportunities to the White City. Its neighbors, New York City, D.C, and St. Louis contributed to the fair’s efforts, which presented an image of American industrialism, expansion and architectural beauty to the some 27 million visitors that year. Like Atlanta’s Cotton States Exposition two years later, Chicago’s World Fair was an important means of bringing people together to recognize and celebrate America’s growing regions.

The irony of celebrating the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ voyage is that the World’s Fair Expo also made room for an exhibit hall called the Haitian Pavilion. A space dedicated to the country of Haiti, it was one of 46 international countries that participated in the fair. On January 2, 1893,  Frederick Douglass, a U.S Minister and Consul General to Haiti, delivered his riveting speech, “Lecture on Haiti,”  to some 1500 people inside the Haitian Pavilion.

But maybe it wasn’t ironic. After all, the island of Hispaniola was where Columbus first landed in 1492, when he thought he reached an island off the coast of China. Inhabited by an indigenous group called the Arawaks, the explorer described Hispaniola as a mountainous region with “plains and pastures, both fertile and beautiful… [and] many spices, and great mines of gold and other metals…”  But not for long. Soon after landing, Columbus built a fort, which historian Howard Zinn considers the first European military base in the West, and enslaved its inhabitants.

By 1497, 125,000 Arawaks were dead.

By 1550, 500 Arawaks were left.

By 1650, no record of the Arawak people existed.

Douglass made many visits to Haiti in his consulate position, and he had a deep appreciation for the country as the first and only nation to ever successfully revolt against slavery. As a former enslaved person himself, Douglass was inspired by Haiti’s revolutionary ways and credited its people as models for African-Americans, as they fought their own battle for freedom and equality. Douglass also highlighted Haiti’s beauty despite its fragile political and economic state, which he believed was capable of better days:

 “NO OTHER LAND HAS BRIGHTER SKIES. No other land has purer water, richer soil, or a more happily diversified climate. She has all the natural conditions essential to a noble, prosperous and happy country.  Yet, there she is, torn and rent by revolutions, by clamorous factions and anarchies; floundering her life away from year in a labyrinth of social misery. Every little while we find her convulsed by civil war, engaged in the terrible work of death; frantically shedding her own blood and driving her best mental material into hopeless exile. Port au Prince, a city of sixty thousand souls, and capable of being made one of the healthiest, happiest and one of the most beautiful cities of the West Indies, has been destroyed by fire once in each twenty-five years of its history. The explanation is this: Haiti is a country of revolutions.”

Douglass discussed Haiti’s evolution from a slave colony to a free black republic following 1804 Haitian Revolution. He encouraged the U.S to improve its relationship with Haiti because the country had great growth potential.

Haiti did more than raise armies and discipline troops. She organized a Government and maintained a Government during eighty-seven years. Though she has been ever and anon swept by whirlwinds of lawless turbulence; though she has been shaken by earthquakes of anarchy at home, and has encountered the chilling blasts of prejudice and hate from the outside world, though she has been assailed by fire and sword, from without and within, she has, through all the machinations of her enemies, maintained a well defined civil government, and maintains it to-day. She is represented at all courts of Europe, by able men, and, in turn, she has representatives from all the nations of Europe in her capitol.

Douglass understood the racial and political reasons why Haiti was having a difficult time creating partnerships with its European neighbors. The1804 Revolution was so fierce, so bold, so extraordinary, that enslavers across the globe imposed new laws to keep blacks from forming future uprisings. This small island forced whites to think harder about the foundation of slavery, as they watched it burst in flames throughout the deep mountains of Saint Dominigue. Despite the chills Haiti gave many white supremacists, Douglass unapologetically praised the nation and urged people to recognize its potential:

With a people beginning a national life as Haiti did, with such crude material within, and such antagonistic forces operating upon her from without, the marvel is, not that she is far in the rear of civilization, but that she has survived in any sense as a civilized nation…

Already she has added five hundred schools to her forces of education, within the two years of Hyppolite’s administration. [Applause,] In the face of such facts; in the face of the fact that Haiti still lives, after being boycotted by all the Christian world; in the face of the fact of her known progress within the last twenty years in the face of the fact that she has attached herself to the car of the world’s civilization, I will not, I cannot believe that her star is to go out in darkness, but I will rather believe that whatever may happen of peace or war Haiti will remain in the firmament of nations, and, like the star of the north, will shine on and shine on forever.

What might happen if schools also taught history from the perspective of the Arawaks? How would our views of Columbus Day change? My exploration into world fairs and expositions has challenged everything I thought I knew about history. The abridged narratives that were selected for me  in college and high school were mere half-truths, fluffy tales of great white knights, and stories of the good cowboy versus the bad Indian. By digging deeper, I learned that history is a collective effort, that involves more than just a “Top Ten List,” of people and places and things. More than just a simple tale of a Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria. Douglass teaches us in “Lecture on Haiti,” that every person, every group and culture, had a role in shaping the globe.

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Happy Haitian Flag Day!

The first Haitian Flag I knew was Black and Red with vertical bars and had the coat of arms in the center.  I remember In 1986 when I was 13, shortly after the departure of Duvalier, the “new” Red and Blue flag with horizontal bars was introduced.  Despite the fact that my parents had been living in the States for 16 years,  their excitement was contagious.  Without knowing a whole lot about Haitian history at the time, I immediately thought the new flag so much better than the Black and Red one — it looked so much happier and more festive — and it came with a huge celebration.  My parents explained to me that the “new” Haitian flag was actually an old Haitian flag and that Haiti was happy to be rid of the Duvalier dictatorship and the Red and Black flag that represented that era.

Today’s Haitian flag (as described in the 1987 Haitian Constitution, Article 3), has two equal-sized horizontal bands: a blue one on top and a red one underneath.  The coat of arms of the Republic is in the center on a white square.  The coat of arms of the Republic are a Palmette surmounted by the liberty cap, and under the palms a trophy with the legend: L’Union Fait la Force (“In Union there is Strength”).

After doing some research, I learned that Haiti has actually had 9 different variations of the flag in its history.  Here’s a brief recap (courtesy of http://www.haiti.org):

 

1697:

flag-1697

When Spain formally recognized French control of the western third of the island, until February 1803, the French flag ruled over the French colony of Saint-Domingue. In 1793, Toussaint Louverture, black leader, and precursor to Haiti’s independence, aligned with the French tri-colored flag. In 1801, Louverture is nominated governor of the entire island, and with the Constitution of July 8, 1801 becomes governor for life. In June 1802, Toussaint Louverture is captured by Napoléon Bonaparte and deported to, and jailed in France where he dies.

 

1803:

flag-1803

Jean-Jacques Dessalines, chief of the black rebels, and Alexandre Pétion, leader of the mulattos, decided in February 1803 to stop fighting alongside the French. Dessalines, on May 18, 1803, removed the white band from the French flag – which was used in Haiti during the French rule, and thereby created the first Haitian flag, symbol of the alliance of blacks and mulattos in their fight for freedom. Dessalines, ordered that the phrase “Freedom or Death” be inscribed on the flag. A relative of his, Catherine Flon, was entrusted with the task of sewing back together the blue (hoist side) and red bands of fabric to form the new Haitian flag.

 

1804:

flag-1804On November 18, 1803, French troops capitulated in Vertières; Haiti was independent. On January 1, 1804 the generals of the revolution decide to change the flag so that the bands are now horizontal. This is the first flag of the free and independent republic. This new bi-colored flag is confirmed by article 192 of the Constitution of 1843.

 

 

1805:

flag-1805

On October 8, 1804, Dessalines proclaimed himself Emperor and took the name Jacques I. On May 20, 1805 he adopted a new flag of two vertical bands; one black, for Death, and one red, for Freedom.

 

 

1806:

flag-1806After the assassination of Dessalines at Pont Rouge on October 17, 1806, the country was divided in two for 14 years; the north ruled by Henri Christophe and the south and west ruled by Alexandre Pétion. Pétion immediately reverts to the blue and red flag of 1804, to which he adds the inscription “L’union fait la force” (strength in unity). At the center, the coat of arms of the Republic, adorned with the Phrygian hat (liberty cap), is placed on a white square background. This flag was hoisted at the National Palace for 158 years, until 1964.

1811:

flag-1811On December 27, 1806 General Henri Christophe became president and is recognized in the North, North West, and in 1807, Artibonite Departments. On March 28, 1811, he proclaimed himself king and took the name Henri I (1811-1820). The self-made monarch kept the colors of the imperial flag of the Kingdom of the North (1805), but changed it slightly; red in the hoist and black in the fly with, at the center, a shield with a phoenix under gold five-pointed stars, all on a blue background; the shield bears a crown and the Latin inscription ‘Ex Cineribus Nascitur’ (« From the ashes we will arise »). In 1818, Henri and his kingdom were vanquished by Alexandre Pétion’s conquest of the North. Pétion, who had been proclaimed president on March 19, 1807, imposed the horizontal blue and red flag to the North. On October 8, 1920 he was succeeded by Jean-Pierre Boyer who maintained the same flag.

1822:

flag-1822In February 1822, Jean-Pierre Boyer annexed the Spanish part of the island (present day Dominican Republic), which a few months earlier, on November 30, 1821, had proclaimed its independence from Spain under the name of “Republica del Haiti Espanol” (Spanish Republic of Haiti), as well as declared its alliance with Colombia. The flag of the Spanish Republic of Haiti was raised in the early weeks of 1822, but the new Republic would soon be dissolved by Boyer.

 

1849:

flag-1849An attempt to reinstate the black and red flag failed in 1844. In 1847, Faustin Soulouque was elected president, but proclaimed himself Emperor under the name Faustin I (1849-1859). The 1849 Constitution kept the blue and red flag but replaced the coat of arms by the shield. The Empire of Faustin I ended on January 15, 1859 and the coat of arms of the Republic regains its original position at the center of the flag.

 

1964:

flag-1964In 1957, François Duvalier, Papa Doc, was elected president, and in 1960 seized all powers. In 1963, he established a single party system and a new Constitution was adopted on May 25, 1964. The new Constitution returned to the black and red flag, although this time the coat of arms of the Republic remained. This flag became official on June 21, 1964. On April 21, 1971 Duvalier died and was replaced by his son Jean-Claude, who was proclaimed president for life. Following a popular uprising, Jean-Claude was removed from office in February 1986.

 

1986:

flag-1806On February 17, 1986, 10 days after the departure of Jean-Claude Duvalier, the Haitian nation reverted to the blue and red flag, which was ratified a year later by the official adoption of the March 29, 1987 Constitution.

 

 

 

Today’s Haitian flag has come a long way.  Haitians in Haiti and abroad proudly celebrate it today — join us!  Bring your Haitian flags out and wave them in the air!!

If you’re in the NYC area, join us at the Haitian Flag Day Selebrasyon! Sponsored by Haiti Cultural Exchange.  It’s a free outdoor celebration of Haitian culture with live dance performances, workshops by CUMBE, traditional drumming, crafts, and more! Music by DJ Sabine Blaizin, Jocelyne Dorisme, and Nadïne LaFond. Sunday, May 18, 2014 from Noon – 6pm at Parkside Plaza (Ocean Ave & Parkside Ave in Brooklyn, NY).    Check out the whole Haitian History Month lineup at http://haiticulturalx.org/selebrasyon

 

 

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