Tuesday, May 18, 2010

May 18th Haiti Independence

Growing up in Haiti, we were always taught the rich history of Haiti. From Kindergarden to higher grades, we were taught to be proud of our rich heritage. To learn the big history textbook, we would sometimes memorize our lessons in songs. I can still remember some of the lines of those lessons starting with Christopher Columbus descovering Haiti to the Haitian Revolution and Beyond. Those history lessons have given my life depth and meaning because I am the descendant of hard working slaves who survived the middle passage during the transatlantic slave trade and who stood up for equality for all. For their sacrifices, I will be eternally grateful and pray that I can live out their legacy.

In honor of Haitian Flag Day on this day of May 18th, I wanted to share with you all some quotes from a book I've been reading "Avengers of the New World: The story of the Haitian Revolution". "In 1791 the colony's slaves began a massive uprising. It became the largest slave revolt in the history of the world and the only one that succeeded." After hundreds of years of being enslaved, hundreds of failed attempts of a revolution, these African slaves finally gained their freedom. "Through years of struggle, brutal violence, and imperial war, slaves became citizens in the empire that had enslaved them."

I'm not sure if you understand the significance of this revolution not just for Haiti but globally so let me give you some perspective. The only big event in our day I can compare the successful Haiti slave revolution to is a black man being the president of the United States. "The revolution began as a challenge to French imperial authority by colonial whites, but it soon became a battle over racial inequality, and then over the existence of slavery itself." In other words, the civil rights movement was only possible because of the Haitian Revolution. The end of Apartheid in South Africa was only possible because of the Haitian Revolution. "If we live in a world in which democracy is meant to exclude no one, it is in no small part because of the actions of those slaves in Saint-Domingue (Haiti) who insisted that human rights were theirs too."

The slave revolution lasted 12 years and on May 18th 1804, Haiti was declared a free nation!

So, to all of my Haitian, black and white friends, take some time and ponder the democracy that we are now enjoying in the USA and elsewhere, think of the sacrifices that were made and the millions of lives slaughtered for what we now take for granted. I'm not just proud to be Haitian on this day but I'm proud to be a human being who like my ancestors must stand for justice and equality for all. That's our God given right!

Happy Haitian Independence Day

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