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9824: Haitian joie de vivre at library in Broward county

From: leonie hermantin <lhermantin@hotmail.com>

Published Saturday, December 1, 2001

Haitian joie de vivre at library

A group of Haitian immigrants is partnering with the Broward County Library 
to show areas of Haitian life that may be overlooked in South Florida.

A free series featuring Haitian art, food, music, literature and a 
discussion on integrating Haitian culture into American society will take 
place at the Broward County Main Library starting today and running through 
Dec. 21.

Titled Haiti: From a Legacy of Freedom to an Explosion of Culture, the event 
will draw prominent Haitian artists, musicians, authors and actors.

The program is aimed at improving relations between South Florida's growing 
Caribbean population and people of different cultures.

``When they see Haitian, they see boat people, and that's not our true 
identity,'' said Eric Boucicaut, founder and president of the ACTION 
Foundation, a nonprofit organization formed in 1988 in Haiti to foster 
harmony between Haitians and the larger American community.

Boucicaut cited the 1804 slave revolt that led to Haiti's independence from 
France, and the renaissance of art and culture that followed as sources for 
a tremendous amount of ethnic pride.

The ACTION Foundation has sponsored Haitian art workshops in Broward 
schools, after-school workshops in art and dance, and now the free events at 
the library to celebrate Haitian culture.

``The media perception is a negative thing,'' said the foundation's vice 
president, Margaret Armand. We had ``an explosion of culture after our 
independence. That's what we are trying to express.''

Marvin Dejean, vice president of operations for Minority Development & 
Empowerment, Inc./Haitian Community Center of Broward, agreed.

``It not only promotes Haitian culture, but it also gives an opportunity for 
the greater society to see Haitian culture and Haitian people, and why we're 
so proud of who we are and where we come from,'' said Dejean, whose group is 
hosting two internationally acclaimed Haitian authors as part of the library 

The celebration comes after a Census survey released in August showed that 
Florida's Caribbean population jumped to nearly half a million, with its 
Haitian and Jamaican numbers leading the nation.

The number of people living in Miami-Dade and Broward counties who describe 
their primary ancestry as West Indian is an estimated 313,540, according to 
the Census survey.

Haitians, included by the Census Bureau in the West Indian category, are the 
largest such group in Miami-Dade, with 97,793. In Broward, Jamaicans are the 
largest group of West Indians with 67,945, followed by 65,100 Haitians. 
Haitian leaders, however, say their numbers are higher than that.

To recognize the Caribbean influence, the Broward County library system -- 
through its soon-to-be-completed African-American Research Library and 
Cultural Center -- holds celebrations of West Indian culture each year.

Last year, the library celebrated the culture of Trinidad and Tobago. Next 
year, it will celebrate Jamaican culture.

``The whole idea is to promote the cultures of the various ethnic groups who 
actually reside here in South Florida,'' said Samuel F. Morrison, director 
of the Broward library system. ``It's just so that we know each other. We 
all live in this community together. The more we know each other, the more 
we'll be able to get along and appreciate each other.''

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