Haitian culture influenced Caribbean life, U.S. history and the popular music and dances of the Americas.
Tuesday, February 25, 2020
NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana
“Fat Tuesday” is the end of Carnival before the pious Catholic fast of Lent
Monday, May 18, 2020
LITTLE HAITI, NYC
Haitian Flag Day celebrations commemorate the unity of African and Creole peoples, and in the U.S., Haitian contributions to U.S. culture
Friday, November 15, 2019
PURCHASE COLLEGE PERFORMING ARTS CENTER
Purchase, New York ~ Discover the rich textures of Haitian music and dance in the jazz and classical arts at.'(T)HERE: A Global Festival of Art, Culture and Ideas – Haiti’
¡New York Latin Culture Sponsor!
Haitian NYC Festivals
Haitian Flag Day is celebrated in New York City.
Haitian New York City
New York City’s “Little Haiti” is in Flatbush, Brooklyn.
Haitian New Yorkers
Sunday, December 22, 2019
“BOOM FOR REAL”
A documentary about Basquiat’s early years and the City that formed the landmark Haitian-Puerto Rican artist from Brooklyn
Saturday, November 16, 2019
PURCHASE, New York (White Plains) ~ Traditional Haitian folk music as part of ‘(T)HERE: A Global Festival of Art, Culture and Ideas – Haiti’ at the Purchase College Performing Arts Center
Thursday, August 29, 2019
LINCOLN CENTER ~ One of Haiti’s most famous bands (Voudou Adjae) plays a free concert at the David Rubenstein Atrium
The only nation in history founded from a slave revolt.
Saturday, June 27, 2020
The patron saint of Haiti is known for miracles preventing cholera and smallpox in 1882
Friday, January 1, 2021
The only country founded by people who freed themselves, declared independence from France on January 1, 1804
Haiti influenced Caribbean life, U.S. history, and the popular music and dances of the Americas
Haiti is a Caribbean country on the western third of the island of Hispaniola. Hispaniola was the Taíno heartland.
Columbus landed there in 1492. The Spanish colony he founded later became the Dominican Republic. The western part of the island was slowly taken over by French and other European pirates.
After 1697 the French colony of Saint-Domingue became the richest colony in the Caribbean so other colonizers copied the model. It later became the model for industrial slavery in the United States which the British copied from the Caribbean.
Saint-Domingue society had this strange contrast in that it was a slave colony which practiced the most brutal exploitation of people and land, but French slavers gave their mixed-race children a first-rate European education. These “Creoles” (American-born children of Europeans) began running the colony. Creoles believed that French Revolutionary ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity should apply to them, but the landowners (basically their parents) refused.
When a 1791 slave uprising launched the Haitian Revolution, Creoles eventually joined forces with the Africans. Haitian Flag Day commemorates that union.
The chaos of the Revolution caused a migration to other Creole (French-African-American) regions of the Caribbean including New Orleans. Blues and jazz show up around this time in French Louisiana. Blues is the root of the music of the United States. The blue note is African and Wynton Marsalis says jazz is Creole.
French contredanse (a blend of English country dance and Italian court dancing) was the very first international dance. Basically it is couples dancing. Migrants from Saint-Domingue brought African syncopation to the contradanza in Cuba. The “Habanera” was what outsiders called the way they dance contradanza in Havana. The Habanera is the root of social dancing in the Americas including Argentine tango and Caribbean salsa.
The literature doesn’t say it, but there must be a Saint-Domingue/Haitian connection to the music and dances of the Americas.
The Haitian Revolution also changed U.S. history. It caused Napoleon to give up on the Americas (for a time) and sell much of New France to the United States which we know as the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. That opened up the West.
The free nation of Haiti was founded in 1804. Former slaves founding a free country was a historic achievement. It has not been done before or since. At the time, the French Army was the world’s most powerful, like the U.S. Marines are today. Much blood was shed for freedom. Haitians even helped fight the U.S. Revolution.
Other countries shunned the new nation for fear that their own enslaved humans would rise up. France forced colonial reparations that drained the new country’s economy. After a promising start, Haiti suffered long periods of political instability which continue even to the present. A great and proud story seems to have been buried by racism.
The United States occupied Haiti from 1915 to 1934.
Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier became president and then a brutal dictator from 1957 to 1971. His son followed until 1986.
Jean-Bertrand Aristide won Haiti’s first free election in 1990. Instability followed and U.S. troops returned in 1994-1995.
A large earthquake destroyed most of the capital Port-au-Prince in 2010. UN assistance brought cholera to the island. Political instability remains.
Freedom is not easy, but gaining freedom from slavery is a historic accomplishment that all Haitians can be proud of.