Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) today announced the passage of their resolution designating June 19, 2018, as "Juneteenth Independence Day," in recognition of June 19, 1865, the day slavery legally came to an end in the United States.
"Every year on Juneteenth we celebrate Emancipation, recognize the work left to do, and continue our commitment to a more equal future for all. Juneteenth is a holiday for all of us to observe the end of slavery, and to joyfully celebrate freedom with a shared sense of responsibility, inspiration, and encouragement," said Senator Gillibrand. "I am proud to have worked in the Senate with over 45 of my colleagues to pass my resolution commemorating 'Juneteenth Independence Day'."
This must be stopped and it must be done sooner rather than later. We must keep the integrity of the Haitian Pumpkin Soup, better known as Soup Joumou or Haitian Independence soup. Let me be direct, Haitian Soup Joumou must be made with beef and not chicken. The rich beef and bone marrow, was missing. Call a soup made with Chicken anything you want, but please don't call it Soup Joumou.
I have noticed a recent trend to move to a Soup Joumou made of Chicken and not beef as it is supposed to be. You might say that "Roland Mache Frite Anpil Kay Moun" or " Roland go out a lot to eat in people's houses". I don't care. However, last January, I was invited to eat my Soup Joumou in 5 homes, mainly Haitian friends and family members. I have got to tell you I was disappointed. Three of those houses served me the Soup Joumou made with chicken and not beef. I was so disappointed to the point I almost left without eating the Soup. Reasoning finally wan and I decided to take it home so that I could eat them during the week.
August 23 of each year, is the day of observance for International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition.
The day has been designated by UNESCO to memorialize the 'transatlantic slave trade' which took place across the Atlantic Ocean from the 15th through 19th centuries. Transatlantic slave trade is one of the darkest chapters in human history. For over 400 years, more than 15 million men, women and children were the victims of this tragic practice. The commemoration of this observance recalls that the slave trade is not just a thing of the past-- with the changes of time, it has taken different shapes in the modern society. The day has a significant importance to Haiti, because during the night of August 22 to August 23, 1791, on the island of Saint Domingue (now known as Haiti), an uprising began which later became a major factor in the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.
When a singular group of brave, pioneering Haitian men and women took part in a fight for their freedom in Haiti August 14 and 15 of 1791, they sparked a movement that would ignite in other Caribbean countries a fervor to do what they did, liberate their people from the shackles of bondage and slavery.
At that time in history, the enslaved African, kidnapped and deposited on foreign land, set to work in tobacco, cotton and sugar plantations, was an accepted staple of life. Since the original reaping initiated by the Portuguese in the 1400's, monarchs, the aristocracy and plantation owners dealt in the business of owning, trading and bequeathing slaves. The practice was so ingrained, and apparently sanctioned by The Bible, in Leviticus 25, that the flagrant kidnapping, disenfranchisement and genocide was allowed by states and backed by state finances, and also written and talked about in well-regarded literary tomes and in religious forums heard by millions around the world.
Restavek is a cruel and inhumane practice that has been allowed to flourish in Haiti for decades. Restavek, translated from Créole, means "to stay with". In this system, ignorant parents, who cannot support their children, deliver them to families, who ostensibly can.
But in truth, they are anything but cared for. Sent to work as house servants, young girls between 5-15 years are beaten and sexually abused, forced to sleep on the floor. They must begin laboring at dawn, doing tasks that are humiliating, like washing out bedpans; or hard labor, carrying heavy pails of water from wells back to their houses.
The international community is aware of the horrors of restavek, and increased numbers of Christian and non-profit organizations are working to save children and educate Haitian communities the practice is immoral and unacceptable. In Haiti, restavek is embedded in the culture.
It is said that human trafficking is the modern form of slavery, and with Haiti and Mauritania to judge by, emancipation may be an outdated term that no longer holds up in water today. With the statistics stating that some nearly 30 million people are living under varying kinds of involuntary servitude, slavery is still a scourge on humanity today. The problem is that it has taken on new names. But, does this rose smell any less like slavery?
Debt bondage, sexual exploitation and forced marriages are some of the new euphemisms used to make modern day slavery more inconspicuous and in the two mentioned countries the trick seems to be working. While Mauritania and Haiti hold the highest proportions of people considered to be slaves, China, India and Pakistan hold the highest absolute numbers. The transgressors in these countries operate against the mandate of the international treaty, the 1926 Slavery Convention as well as the UN Trafficking Protocol.
Born a member of the gens de couleur libres, Alexandre Sabes Petion (1770 - 1818) began life between two worlds. It is a dichotomy he would continue, further marking his legacy as an instrumental force behind the struggle for independence of two lands, his own beloved Haiti, and the republic of Gran Colombia.
Alexandre Petion began his career, after an expensive education in France, by joining the fight to force the British out of Saint-Domingue between 1798 and 1799. He would subsequently fight on the side of the mulattos against Toussaint L'Ouverture and the blacks, and was exiled to France when the rebellion ended; he returned soon after with General Leclerc and his assemblage of warships and troops. In 1802, he joined the nationalist force and gave his support to Jean-Jacques Dessalines, the future proclaimer of the Haitian Independence and self-declared ruler for life of the newly formed country.
A United Nations international panel of five judges picked Haitian-American Rodney Leon's modernistic and abstract sculpture as the winning art piece that will be installed near the United Nations Plaza in Manhattan in fall of 2014. Titled "The Ark of Return", it is a stunning representation of a slave ship, which will be hewn in immaculate white marble.
Len, a gifted designer and architect, also has another sculpture piece on display in lower Manhattan, the African Burial Ground National Monument. Leon, during his project presentation, educated the judges on the symbolic intent of the ark. In essence, he said the piece invites the viewer to explore it interiorly and exteriorly, a place of meditative thought and reflection, as part of an educational and transformative experience. It is meant to be a conduit to remembering the past without the shackles of shame attached to it.
Tire Machèt is a Créole martial arts hybrid. It synthesizes elements of fencing, stick, and machèt art forms. Its genesis occurred prior to the Haitian Slave Revolt, as a solution to rebels not having standard weapons to fight the enemy. Machèt fighting then became a valued skill, and part of the Haitian Army's basic training. Down through the history of military training, Tire Machèt has acquired a sacred symbolism owing to the Haitian Slave Revolt.
Haitian Machete Fighting ~ January 2012
Stick fighting, as well as Tire Machèt, is grounded in African practices that were imported along with Congolese slaves to Haiti in colonial times. Stick fighting and Tire Machèt have gained strength as martial arts disciplines, due to Haiti's isolation from the world. Although Haiti endured unimaginable poverty by being cut off from the rest of the world, it enabled important primitive traditions to flourish, among them Tire Machèt.
Hundreds of years of African slavery have been whittled down by most of the world as 'that thing most wished forgotten'. However, on Friday the 23rd of August, 2013, those who will never forget took the time to remember a past that still colors the present on the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade.
Imagining what months spent on board a rocking ship along the middle passage was like is thrown into sharp context when the diagram of the slave ship the Brookes is shown, and one is hard-pressed to remain unmoved when remembering the 142 thrown overboard to make way for water during the Zong massacre. However, as many focus on the tales of the horrors, the indignities and the atrocities that prevailed then, what should not be forgotten is the way in which the slave trade ended.
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