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Black History Month celebrates Haitian angle

Black Caribbean Literature (BCL)
Kay,Jennifer (Author)
Newspaper Article
Publication Date:
Mar 1-Mar 7, 2007
New York, NY
African American Research Center, Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject Term:
Haiti, African Americans, Hurston, Zora Neale (1891-1960), Caribbean, Equality, Abolition of slavery, Black history, Special events, Douglass, Frederick (1817?-95), Heroism & heroes, Hughes, Langston
"I say that I'm Haitian first, and then we go from there," said Patrick Marcelin, the U.S.-born son of Haitian immigrants who raps in Creole and English as "Mecca a.k.a. Grimo." "I just happened to be born in America, but really I'm a Haitian brother. And Haiti is the direct daughter of Africa." The Black History Months he remembers studying never mentioned Haiti's history, even though Haiti was a destination for Black Americans searching for their cultural roots. Marcelin now also teaches in the Haitian Heritage Museum's school outreach program, exposing students to the American history he never learned. For example, when talking about writers from the Harlem Renaissance, Marcelin points out that [Zora Neale Hurston] wrote her novel "Their Eyes Were Watching God" in Haiti in the 1930s, and the poet [Langston Hughes] wrote admiringly of the Haitian peasants who walked down mountain roads barefoot, balancing baskets on their heads, to sell their wares. "They should have been teaching this in school, that soldiers from Haiti came to fight in the American Revolution," Marcelin said. "I read about [Frederick Douglass] in the history books but I don't remember anything about him being the ambassador to Haiti. Or that the founder of Chicago was a Haitian brother."