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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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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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(The following blog post was submitted by Kassandra Khalil, Program Director, Haiti Cultural Exchange:  http://haiticulturalx.org/)

Selebrasyon_Logo&Info_OrangeBG

 

My experience of Haitian culture begins with my grandmother’s hands. Soft like calf leather with strong, deep palm lines and a missing knuckle on her left hand – an accident from her days as a seamstress and a reminder of a hard life. I’ve watched those hands brush my sister’s hair and scrape the bottom of the rice pot with that same cast and pull motion. And there is a clear image in my mind of those hands gathering a long skirt with a quick grab and loud “Humph!” in distaste at my uncle’s off-color humor.

 

The motions of Ma Laborde’s hands, the stories they tell, and the food it taught me to cook amount to so much of what I consider my identity as a Haitian woman. My grandmother connects me to a country with a deep history of revolution, of art, and nature – all things that resonate with me regardless of my Haitian background. What inspired me to focus on Haitian culture was those passive moments – gestures and often minor acts that I found to be so distinctly Haitian and Caribbean.

 

For the past few years, I have been working as the Program Coordinator at Haiti Cultural Exchange, an organization that I feel represents that nuance. Together with Régine Roumain, our community of brilliant supporters, interns, committee members and talented artists, Haiti Cultural Exchange has been able to present programs on art and culture from Haitian and the Diaspora that incite discussion, build community, and acknowledge how wide and diverse Haitian culture really is. Laying into these ideas, HCX strives to give Haiti-identifying artists a space to express their link to their country while sharing their personal creativity and individuality as an artist.

 

As part of this mission, HCX is presenting a six-week festival called Selebrasyon! Placing artists and community in the forefront, Selebrasyon! aims to reinforce intersections inside the Haitian community and will express the multidimensional nature of Haitian Diaspora culture.

 

Taking place in venues all over the city, Selebrasyon! will highlight some of the best new talents and known names in Haitian culture today. These include our Haitian Flag Day Selebrasyon! on May 18th featuring the traditional “rèlkè” of Jocelyn Dorisme beside the neo-blues sounds of Nadïne LaFond as well as  LirikAyiti: Rasin/Chimen on June 8th featuring the hip-hop influenced rhymes of Lenelle Moïse  and the high rhythms of Patrick Sylvain’s  Kreyòl verse.

 

From May 18 to June 30, this city will come to life with over 20 Haitian cultural events that will unite the community and bring generations together to remember, learn, and connect around Haitian culture. This is YOUR festival, I hope to see you there.

 

Check out the official Selebrasyon! Calendar here and see how you can support our ongoing Indiegogo campaign. Special perks  include tickets to Monday Nightcap & Music with Melanie J-B Charles on April 21st , hand-painted tote bags, and original artwork.

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