Haitian Day is now officially Oct. 9. New York City Council resolutions passed this summer called on the City and the United States to recognize on this day Haitians’ contributions in America. The date signifies the fight by Haitian soldiers during the Revolutionary War for the freedom of the United States at the Battle of Savannah.
At Bowling Green in Lower Manhattan, New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Council Member Jumaane Williams joined Haitian-born Council Member Mathieu Eugene who introduced this legislation, civic advocates, members of Haitian clergy and others from the Haitian community to celebrate the first New York City Haitian Day and Flag Raising Ceremony.
Resolution 687 establishes this date in New York City to recognize the contributions of Haitians to the city. Resolution 664 calls on the State and Federal governments to officially establish this date as Haitian Day.
After the Star Spangled Banner and Haiti’s national anthem La Dessalinienne were sung, the flags of each nation were raised in a sign of solidarity between the two countries.
‘We are lucky to live in one of the most diverse places in the world,” emphasized Eugene at the ceremony. “The character of New York has been shaped by so many different cultures, and since the beginning of American history, Haiti has helped shape this great nation.”
With pride, Eugene reminded those present of Haitians’ presence in a great many professions including the arts. [We are] “involved in every vocation possible, and together, we have made tremendous contributions to American art, medicine, law, culture and most importantly, the history of the nation.”
Marking the 237th anniversary of the Battle of Savannah, where Haitian soldiers joined the American cause for independence, the gathering also served as an opportunity for the Haitian-American community to unite in support of their homeland as it begins to assess the damage and assist with recovery from the devastation of the recent hurricane.
Bishop Guy Sansaricq, the Haitian American Law Enforcement Organization, which provided a color guard, Anne Marie Bernadel from the Haitian Consulate, and Montreal Conseil President Frantz Benjamin also participated in the ceremony.
Poets Johnfield Noel and Kerta George, performing artist E-Uneek, representatives from Interfaith Medical Center and the Haitian American Nurses Association were also present.
“Today’s celebration is so very important for our nation’s spirit, as it commemorates a time when Haitian soldiers gave their lives as a part of the American struggle for independence. It is also an opportunity for our community to unite in support of our homeland, which continues to maintain its strength of character in the face of an extreme humanitarian crisis,” remarked Council Member Eugene.
The event in Lower Manhattan was a precursor to the official Haitian Day Celebration at Brooklyn Museum on Oct. 10 attended by other public figures including Public Advocate Letitia James, Congress Member Yvette Clarke, State Senator Roxanne Persaud, and Police Commissioner James O’Neill. The program included Haitian and American history, dance and music performances, and recognition of other notables in the community.