Celebrate Haitian Heritage Month by Discovering These 6 Awesome Haitians

It’s May, which means that it’s Haitian Heritage Month! Haiti is the country that takes up one-third of the island Hispaniola and is recognized as the first independent black country. When many people think of Haiti, they imagine the 2010 Earthquake that wreaked havoc in the country. However, this is only a small segment of Haiti’s history.

There are political leaders, artists, singers and activists who make a large percentage of what makes Haiti and many other countries such as the United States, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, and other Latin American countries who they are today. Here are six awesome Haitian people throughout history and the present day:

  1. Born in Bréda, Saint-Domingue, Louverture is recognized as one of the Founding Fathers of Haiti. He helped slaves escape and joined forces that burned plantations and attacked those in power. He used the military to force former slaves to work to prevent laziness, but they were deemed as free and equal. Workers also had a share of the profits from restored plantations. With the removal of French Revolutionary laws, racial tensions decreased, which created a peaceful and thriving environment for Haiti.

  2. Born in Jakmèl, Haiti, Depestre is a poet who is known for his controversial poetry pieces and communist activism. His first work of poetry, Étincelles, was published when he was 19 years old in 1945. He was exiled from Haiti in 1959 during François Duvalier’s rule, leading him to live in Cuba. His novel, Hadriana in All of My Dreams, won him the Renaudot Prize in 1988. Along with other writers he founded the magazine La Ruche, which influenced young Haitian students to assist with overthrowing President Élie Lescot. He currently resides in France.

  3. Born in Cap-Haïtien, Obin is a painter who worked for 75 years. He produced his first piece of recognized work at the age of 16. His paintings showcased the true Haitian way of life, seen in pieces such as “Carnaval du Cap Haitien” and “Habitation Coloniale Vaudreuil.” Although middle-class Haitians did not appreciate his paintings, he is recognized as one of the best Haitian painters. To this day, he still influences many Cap-Haitian artists.

  4. Jessie Woo is a comedian, hostess and singer who many know from social media and television platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, BET Breaks, Power Star Live, Seester Talk and Love & Hip-Hop Miami. Jessie is known for her introductory catchphrase, “Seesters,” when creating videos, filming live streams, and posting content, which is where her title, “Seester-in-Chief” comes from.

    Many of her videos discuss the importance of growing up Haitian, comedic themes through a Haitian perspective, pop culture such as Game of Thrones, and essential topics such as colorism, sexual assault and racism. Recently, Jessie performed in the Dungeon Tour, and soon, she plans on releasing her first EP called Moods of a Cancer. Currently, her song “Ladylike” is on available SoundCloud.

  5. Since she started her YouTube channel back in 2015, Yvana Romelus has created plenty of videos covering subjects such as social issues, natural hair, musical covers, commentary and reaction videos. She is known for creating video series such as “KAKA of the Week,” which discusses the “shit," problems and drama that happen during the week. As of May 2019, Thee Mademoiselle has 161k followers on YouTube, and she posts videos from Monday to Friday.

  6. For those who are from Chicago, DuSable Day is a day to recognize the birth of the “Father of Chicago”: Jean-Baptist Du Sable. In the 1770s, Du Sable and his wife, Kittihawa, settled on the shore of Lake Michigan at the mouth of the Chicago River. Due to his connections to the French and Americans, he was arrested by the British and forced to manage a trading post in Fort Mackinac on modern-day St. Clair River. In the 1790s, Du Sable returned to Chicago and officially made an establishment there. This led to Chicago's importance in the fur and grain trade.

     

With Haitian Heritage Month coming to a close, there are even more influential Haitians than I included on this list who don't receive the same platform and praise compared to other groups of people. Make sure to search and support talented Haitian people. They are all over the web and world, and have and will continue to influence mainstream media and culture as time goes on.  

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