Photos and Story by Lilith Dorsey
The theme of the Jan. 28 Haitian Roundtable (HRT) event, which was held at Caribbean BK9 Restaurant and Bar in Brooklyn, NYC, was Haiti’s Independence Day (Jan. 1).
Two months after his defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte’s colonial forces, Jean-Jacques Dessalines proclaimed the independence of Saint-Domingue in 1804, renaming it Haiti after its original Arawak name, according to the History Channel website.
The HRT event at the Haitian-owned BK9 was widely attended by Haitian and diaspora notables and newcomers alike. “Sak Pase! Happy Haitian Independence Day,” HRT Chairwoman Rosemonde Pierre-Louis said, welcoming the crowd.
The keynote address was given by recently elected Judge Dweynie Paul, who is the first Haitian-American elected to the New York state Civil Court. Paul noted that that HRT events and similar networking events allow for conversation “about all the firsts we have, and how it uplifts all of us as a community.”
Also in attendance were honorees from HRT’s 1804 lists, including Gretah Fievere from heal-haiti.org and others. People cheered, celebrated and spoke of what made them proud to be Haitian.
Attendee Ruth Dorsainville, who recently moved to the area shared, “The reason why I’m proud to be here is, of course, the end of slavery; but after that also because I want to be with my brothers and sisters, and to help make a difference in the world.”
Haitian-American and CNN legal commentator Midwin Charles spoke about the power of connection and networking.
Also present was Rodney Leon, the renowned architect of the Ark of Return Memorial to victims of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and the African Burial Ground Memorial.
Another attendee, Rose Saint Albord, summed up the sentiment of the night, “I’m proud to be Haitian, because we’ve contributed immensely to the greater good of society, while promoting equality and justice for all. What is better than that?”
The Haitian Roundtable (HRT), founded in New York in 2008, is an organization comprised of Haitian-American professionals who are committed to civic engagement as well as philanthropic endeavors benefiting Haiti, Haitian organizations and causes.
The organization seeks to heighten awareness locally and nationally of Haitians as an emerging constituency among key stakeholders and institutions through networking, forums and events.
Visit The Haitian Roundtable website for more info.