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17454: Nlbo: Atlanta Convention- Idea for a Boston Summit (fwd)

From: Nlbo@aol.com

When I read the post about the Atlanta convention,  I would like to reiterate
the idea of a Haitian Summit in Boston in 2004. I am thinking of a bilingual
assembly. There will be presentations, workshops  seminars, or small group
discussions in  English and in Creole not a translated conference. Things tend to
get lost in translation. Let's be honest with ourselves, those who are not
comfortable with one of the languages will not participate. We have Haitians who
were born in this country who have a lot to offer, but can't speak Creole.
There are those who migrated as an adult and never become proficient in the
English language. I firmly believe , we have a lot of Haitians in the community
who are proficient in both languages. There are also new comers who are learning
English, but can share their insights. Unless we have an intergenerational
connection and participation,  we are living an illusion if we think we have a
vibrant community in Boston.
 Miami gathered 125 community leaders in the spring. Atlanta which is a more
recent Haitian community is organizing a multidimentional convention  in June

So far, I have heard about trips being organized to Haiti. But as a group
whose history and presence in Boston goes back as late as the 18th century, we
may need to think on  restablishing this connection by starting a dialogue in

When I reminisce on Haitian contributions in the United States or in the
world, I say to myself what happened to the descendents of all these people? We
are proud of the battle the Savannah, of Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable who first
settled in Chicago. What happened to the descendents of those people? We know
that James Audubon, the world renown naturalist was Haitian. I am sure he had
brothers and sisters.

 Pierre Toussaint is well known in the Catholic community. There are other
Haitian Catholics like Mother Elizabeth Lange , Juliette Gaudin who founded
Sister of Oblates of Providence, co- founded Sisters of Holy Spirit respectively.
During the slave revolts from l789 on , a lot of masters sailed with their
slaves to the United States, particularly Louisina and the Missisipi area in the
south; Washington, Baltimore in the east coast. White slave owners fleeing the
Boukman uprising with their slaves made us the first (immigrant) black
catholics in the East Coast.  Both Haitian religious nuns started those
congregations because the Catholic church will not accept blacks in their convents, or
black children in their schools, or teach them religious education.  Many
Haitians don't know that Haitian women have fought, suffered humiliation so our
children today can attend Catholic schools or have what we call CCD( Confraternity
of Catholic  Doctrine) to do their communion and confirmation. Mother
Elizabeth Lange I mentionned started schools for black Catholic children in Baltimore
Maryland area. (Read Michel Laguerre's writings for more on the history of
Haitian migration in the United States).

The nuns, the schools, the church still exist. There is a major movement to
beatify Mother Lange. When I met  these black american  nuns last year in a
conference, I said to myself how come they never sent those nuns, the Josephites
who also train black priests, as missionaries to Haiti, or if they had gone, I
and many others who attended parochial schools did not see those black
missionaries. Even today how many blacks are in the Third World countries as lay or
religious missionaries? - I don't want to divert to another topic.

As an educator, I learned about Mary Baldwin , the first black principal in
the northeast  (Cambridge, Mass), some time in the l800's. Her father was
Haitian. The Haitian slaves who came with their masters around the18th century
obviously have descendants. We read about all those presidents who went to exile
in United States or Europe. Where are their children? Where are the great grand
children of Toussaint Louverture?

I made those references just to wonder what had happened to the descendents
of these historical figures as Haitian peoples and what we can start doing from
our lack of knowledge and intergenerational connection. Doing history is  not
the point. My point today is the link or lack of linkage and interaction
among us Haitians as a group. I have only been in this country for 30 years. As I
am understanding the global society, I don't think it's normal that I am not
in touch with those I went to high school with.  I understand people have
moved. But americans have a concept of class reunions which keep generations
connected.  I believe the connections that Jews, Muslims, Asians have kept among
them as a group throughout  human history  is what makes them a respected,
organized, cohesive group of people regardless of traumas they have gone or going

Moreover, as I  read about the Ethnic Dialogue that is launched in Boston
which first meeting occured three of four Wednesdays ago at 2:00 at Faneuil Hall,
I believe as Haitians we also need our own dialogue to address our own issues
before we bring them to a larger audience.

The way I see things in the Haitian Boston community, in 2003, in an era
denoted  Information Age, in a society where globalization is the strand, "looking
at the big picture" is the common view, I like to sum up it by the Haitian
Creole phrase " Nan pwen maladi, nan pwen lanmò, men ka a grav." (There is no
illness, there is no death, but the situation is crucial {in Boston}.)