Why Haitian History Matters

Black History Month is a time to celebrate black voices, experiences and cultures. We at SOIL, want to take this time to acknowledge Haiti’s significant place in black history – as a symbol of strength, resilience and hope, since 1804. From Toussaint Louverture and Catherine Flon, to Jean-Michel Basquiat and Edwidge Danticat, Haitians and Haitian-Americans alike have had a profound impact on world history.

In 1804, Haiti became a free nation, and the first black republic, after years of fighting against colonial oppression. Haiti’s independence served as a pivotal moment not only in the fight against colonialism, but in the acknowledgement of the humanity and dignity of black people around the world. Despite this remarkable feat, the portrayal of Haiti as a symbol of black independence and revolution often gets overshadowed by reports on poverty and corruption. Many see Haiti’s flaws as a byproduct of Haitian culture, while completely erasing Haiti’s exceptional, and exploited, history of slavery, war, revolution, foreign intervention, and embargoes. It is impossible to understand Haiti’s present without taking a deep dive into its past.  

No matter what is going on in Haiti, it is still an inspiring nation worthy of praise. It is still the nation whose inhabitants were brought over on slave ships and led the most successful slave rebellion in history. It is still the nation that inspired independence movements across continents. And it is still the country that we love so dearly.  

We are honored to work in this fiercely proud, resilient and beautiful country – the Pearl of the Antilles – with the Haitian people, who have given so much to us all. We celebrate you this month and every month!      

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