At the 9th Annual Toussaint L’ Ouverture Symposium and Small Business Expo, held at Brooklyn Borough Hall, 209 Joralemon Street, on Friday evening April 19, a petition by Jacques A. Dorcely to name April 7, Toussaint L’ Ouverture Memorial Day in the U.S. calendar met with unanimous support and standing ovation. It is to be delivered to the New York State House, New York State Senate, Governor Andrew Cuomo, United States House of Representatives, United States Senate and President Barrack Obama. One may endorse it at signon.org/sign/for-a-toussaint-louverture?source=c.em.cp&r_by=6728256
Keynote speaker Mayor Joseph Champagne, Esq. of the Borough of South Toms River, New Jersey, contended that L’Ouverture who was born in slavery in 1743, became free at age 33, and spearheaded the Haitian Revolution (1790- 1804), was greater than George Washington and Napoleon yet he is under-recognized. Mayor Champagne noted that over 250 books were written about L’Ouverture who did not need to read a book to understand the value of freedom, justice and equality. But through his actions and the revolution was responsible for “freedom for all in the New World” while helping the USA to double its size in 1803. “It’s payback time” said the Mayor, alluding to the fact that even those who benefitted through L’Ouverture saw him as a despised Negro. He added, “You don’t have to be Haitian to step up.”
In October 1880 the vast Louisiana Territories were ceded to France. Napoleon then embarked on aggressive French expansionism on the American Continent. But L’Ouverture who became General-in-Chief in 1797 and later Governor General of Haiti, the most important and richest French colony in the Caribbean, defeated Napoleon causing him to sell those territories to the U.S. in 1803 for only $15 million or 4 cents per acre. It cost no American life. That represented “one of the greatest land bargains in history” making the USA 828,000,000 acres or 16 colonies larger. “All of the Indian Territory, all of Kansas and Nebraska and Iowa and Wyoming and Montana and the Dakotas and most of Colorado and Minnesota and all of Washington and the Oregon States” (Rev. Talmage De Witt, Nov.28, 1908) became colonies of the USA.
L’Ouverture , described by some authors as humble and spiritually superior to his contemporaries, is also credited with facilitating American merchants during 1796-1797 to by-pass the European trade embargo, by initiating a trade agreement with the John Adams government of Britain. The agreement allowed British trade at Haiti’s ports and safeguarded US exports to Europe through Haiti. That was critical to the American economy.
The HABNET Chamber of Commerce co-hosted the symposium and expo with Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Councilmembers Jumaane D. Williams and Mathieu Eugene, in celebration of L’Ouverture and the co-naming of Nostrand Avenue as Toussaint L’ Ouverture Boulevard. Two awards were also delivered at the event.
The Service Award recipient is Reverend Dr. Yves Pierre while the Organization of the Year Award goes to Affinity Health Plan. Reverend Pierre, a social worker and linguistic specialist, was also awarded by the Office of Brooklyn Borough President, Marty Markowitz, for engaging his Church of God parish in support of community endeavors and continuous assistance to Haiti.