Fireside chat with Haitian historian and author for Black History Month

Yanatha Desouvre (left), host, and Ghislain Gouraige Jr. (right), author, looking at the audience just before beginning the discussion on Gouraige’s book. | Danette Heredia, PantherNOW

Danette Heredia | Contributing Writer

After defeating the French for their freedom, Haiti became a forgotten history yet managed to maintain its cultural richness. A Haitian author and historian reflects upon the last 100 years of Haiti’s struggle through literature empowerment. 

Ghislain Gouraige Jr., the author of Notre Histoire, brought together Haitians and others interested with a discussion on the reality of Haiti’s path to independence and how it is a story worth telling for reserving the negative discourse on Haitians today on Feb. 15 at Biscayne Bay Campus.

Norte Histoire is a book about the often overlooked struggles that Haitians had to endure to liberate themselves from the French, like having no ally countries to depend on and spending the majority of their funds on defenses. 

“It’s about a history that’s not often told where 100 years of Haiti’s independence where we were the pillars,” says Yanatha Desouvre, the host of the fireside chat. 

There is a consistent narrative on Haiti revolving around its poverty and how poor of a country it has developed throughout the years, denying acknowledgment of how rich its culture and history have developed.

“Seeing our strength or us talking in a more positive way reminds me and makes me appreciate my ethnicity,” said Tyles Cesaire, a Haitian attendant of the fireside chat. 

Gouriage tells a story that young Haitians need to know for not only to be knowledgeable on their country’s history but to feel empowered and proud to come from resilient ancestors. 

“This was my effort to learn and to share,” says Gouriage, emphasizing the importance of reaching out to younger generations on the story of Haiti. 

Mecca “Grimo” Marcelin, a Haitian performer and activist, was brought in to perform a slam poetry piece dressed as Toussaint L’Ouverture, the most influential leader of the Haitian independence movement, to perform an empowering piece about the fight for the independence of Haiti and Haitians’ need to be loud about their love for their country and culture.

Mecca “Grimo” Marcelin shaking hands with Gouriage in the middle of his slam poetry performance. | Danette Heredia, PantherNOW

In honor of Black History Month, Haitian history plays an important role and resonates with the Haitian population at FIU. 

“There are a lot of things that are connected to the diaspora that lives in the United States and I want to give the students that are interested in what the Haitian history is like from the past and how it connects now,” said Sabine Dantus, coordinator of the event.

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