A Celebration of History, Culture, and Pride
May is referred for Haitians all over the world as Haitian Heritage Month. It has great historical and cultural significations based upon the traditions inherited since Haiti's independence in 1804, and have been passed on from generations to generations.
Over the past few years, Haitians in Boston, NY, Florida, Philadelphia, and New Jersey have celebrated proudly the month of May with parades, flag raising, conferences, radio and TV programs, festivals, and exhibits, etc. It’s a pride-filled month that carries out exciting events within the Haitian community and bring memorable souvenirs, such as patriotic songs recalling the creation of the flag blue and red and the symbol of unity that made us free forever.
In Haiti, May 1st has been celebrated as Labor and Agricultural Day. This is a day when workers, artisans and peasants parade in singing together: “Let's put Shoulder against Shoulder for Haiti's Development.”
During the government of President Francois Duvalier, the second day of May was celebrated as Flowers’ Day. Many cultural activities were held in the capital’s bicentennial plaza, decorated with flowers and the blue and red colors of the Haitian flag. Well known artists and musical groups: Ti Roro, the drummer, the Super Jazz des Jeunes, the National Folkloric Dance Troupe and so on, took part in the annual celebration.
Mothers’ Day is celebrated in Haiti on the last Sunday of May. On that day, Haitians honor their mothers by wearing a red flower if the mothers are alive and a white or purple one if they are dead.
May reminds Haitians of the historic pact signed by the Black and Mulatto officers at the May 1803's congress. As a result, those officers created the Haitian Flag on the last day of the congress, on May 18, 1803. And, under that flag, they fought and expelled the French army, so Haiti became the first Black independent country in the world on January 1st , 1804.
The Haitian Slave Revolution of August 14, 1791 would have never been the only successful slave revolution in the world if General Toussaint Louverture, who was born on May 20, 1743, had not use his military genius to organize and lead the slaves from victory to victory against the powerful armies of Spain, Great Britain and France.
U.S. Senator John F. Kerry has recognized the Month of May as Haitian Heritage Month in a citation, while Massachusetts Governor Deval L. Patrick proclaimed May as Haitian Heritage Month in the State of Massachusetts. The Mayor of the City of Boston, Thomas M. Menino proclaims every year, the Haitian Heritage Month in the City of Boston and sponsors the parade and the Boston Flag Raising ceremony.
In Florida, the Haitian Heritage Month is recognized and celebrated by the School Board of Miami Dade County and supported by the School Board of Broward County. Many other patriotic and cultural activities are held in Chicago, Georgia, Texas, Philadelphia to acknowledge the Haitian Heritage Month.
Marching band during the Haitian Flag Day parade in Boston
A Float during the Haitian Day parade in Brooklyn, NY
The Annual Haitian American Unity Parade of Boston is held annually around May 18. The Parade usually leaves Mattapan Square in the early afternoon and continues onto dedicated avenues of the area. It features Haitian leaders, state and city officials, marching bands, delegations from schools, colleges and universities. Many youth groups, cultural, professional, and religious associations as well as, community, political and regional organizations and Haitian and American businesses also take part. Another event is the Annual Haitian Flag Raising is also held annually.
In New York, there is the Haitian Day Parade that usually takes place on Nostrand Ave, Brooklyn from Linden Blvd to Foster Ave, the last Sunday of May. So, the Haitian Heritage Month is indeed significant for all Haitians as they celebrate it with pride and dignity regardless of their differences in order to promote and share the Haitian culture. As Dr. Carruthers stated, Haitian was the “Irritated Genie” that avenged the atrocities that were committed against all African people.
* For more information Contact: Haitian-Americans United, Inc. (H.A.U.) (617) 298-2976, General Consulate of Haiti in Boston (617) 366-2660, Haitian-American Public Health Initiatives (HAPHI) (617-298-8076), Association of Haitian Women in Boston (AFAB) (617) 287-0096, and Youth and Family Enrichment Services (YOFES) (617) 364-0370.
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