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9824: Haitian joie de vivre at library in Broward county
From: leonie hermantin <email@example.com>
Published Saturday, December 1, 2001
Haitian joie de vivre at library
BY BRAD BENNETT
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
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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