NOTABLE PEOPLE OF HAITIAN ANCESTRY


Alexandre Petion:
A champion for democracy and freedom for the oppressed, Alexandre Petion was president of the Republic of Haiti from 1806 until his death. He participated in the rebellion which managed to expel the British and Spaniards from the island in 1798. A year later he supported the Haitian general André Rigaud in the civil war which pitted him against Toussaint Louverture. He is one of Haiti's founding fathers.


Alice Garoute:
A Haitian sufferagist, Alice Garoute was an advocate for women's rights in Haiti, including peasant women. She was one of the founders of the Ligue Féminine d’Action Social in 1934, and its president from 1941 onwards. The League’s main purpose was to provide better educational opportunities for girls, equality for women in their daily as well as professional life, and more representation in politics. On her deathbed, she requested that flowers be placed on her grave on the day women would be granted the vote in Haiti, which only happened seven years later, in 1957.



Catherine Flon:
Regarded as one of the symbols of the Haitian Revalution and independence, Catherine Flon played a huge role in the Haitian Revolution as a nurse. She sewed the first Haitian flag on may 18, 1803, the last day of the Congress of Arcahaie. Her picture was featured on a 10-Gourdes Haitian banknote issued in 2000.


Dany Laferrière:
An accomplished Haitian and Canadian journalist and novelist, Dany Laferrière was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. While in haiti, he worked as a journalist until he moved to Canada in 1976 where he continued as a journalist and became a television host. In 1985, he published his first novel, which was later adopted into a screenplay. His greatest accomplishment to date was on December 12, 2013 where he the first Haitian, Quebecer, and Canadian to be elected to the Academie Francaise, the pre-eminent literary body on all matters pertaining to the French language.


Edwidge Danticat:
Born in Port-au-Prince, Edwidge Danticat left Haiti at the age of 12 to join her parents in Brooklyn, NY. Two years later she published her first writing, in English, in New Youth Connections, a magazine written by teenagers. Drawing on her experiences as a Haitian-American, she writes of one of the most underrepresented cultures in American literature. She is considered to be one of the most talented young authors in the US.


Felix Morisseau-Leroy:
Known as the "Father of the Creole Renaissance", Felix Morisseau-Leroy advocated and succeeded in having Creole be recognized as an official language in Haiti. Throughout his many positions in Haitian society, he always felt that the use of Haitian Creole was a way of uniting the country against a rigid class system, for mostly the Haitian elite alone spoke French, leaving a big gap between them and the poorere lower class. He ended up in Miami where he would continue his journalism talents through a weekly column in the Haitian newspaper, Haiti en-Marche. 


Georges Anglade:
Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Georges Anglade was a famous Haitian-Canadian geographer, politician, and writer. During the Duvalier regime, he lived in exile in Quebec, where he completed his major contribution to society, founding the Department of Geography at the Universite du Quebec a Montreal. He and his wife, Mireille Neptune Anglade, were killed in the 2010 Haiti earthquake. His influence on the importance of geography in education remains ever-present, especially in Quebec.



Henri Christophe:
A key leader in the Haitian Revolution, Henri Christophe started off his important role with the slave uprising of 1791. After Dessalines was assassinated, Christophe retreated to the north and created a seperate government. He was elected President of the State of Haiti, as he had named the area. He is known for constructing the Citadelle Laferrière, the Sans-Souci Palace, and numerous other palaces.


Ida Faubert:
The daughter of Haitian President Lysius Solomon, Ida Faubert was born in Port-au-Prince. She is best known for her work in Haitian literature and has published several poems, and is highly regarded as a major author in Haiti's literary canon. Thirteen years before she died, she had been honored by the French government with the prestigious Chevalier de l'Ordre Honneur et Merite, or Knight of Honor and Merit Order.


Jacques Roumain:

Grandson of former Haitian President Tancrede Auguste, Jacques Roumain was a Haitian politician, advocate of Marxism, and writer. His career began when he became an outspoken opponentof the US occupation of Haiti in 1934, and he founded the Haitian Communist Party. After being exiled to New York City, where he conducted ethnographical research at Columbia University, he finally returned to Haiti and founded the Office of Ethnology, where he published many of his works. He will forever be one of the most prominent figures in Haitian literature.


Jacques Stephen Alexis:
A prominent writer, poet, and a descendent of Jean-Jacques Dessalines, a leader of the Haitian Revolution and the first ruler of an independent Haiti under the 1805 constitution, Jacques Stephen Dessalines was a founder of the People's Consensus Party in Haiti and La Ruche, a group created to literary and social spring in Haiti. 



Jean Baptiste Point du Sable:
Born in San Marc, Haiti in 1745, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable was educated in France. By the late 1770s, he was a fur and grain trader in the Great Lakes region, establishing a base at the site of what is now Chicago. In 1987 a commemorative stamp was issued to honor him as the founder of Chicago.  A school, museum, harbor, park, and bridge have been named in his honor. 


Jean-Jacques Dessalines:
One of the founding fathers and a leader of the Haitian Revolution, Jean-Jacques Dessalines was the first ruler of an independent Haiti under the 1801 constitution. As Toussaint L 'Ouverture's principal lieutenant, he led many successful engagements, including the Battle of Crête-à-Pierrot, earning the nickname “the Tiger” for his ferocity in battle.

Jean-Léon Destiné:

Considered the father of Haitian professional dance, Jean-Léon Destiné was a Haitian born American dancer and choreographer. He moved to America with the dance company of Lina Mathon-Blanchet in the early 1940s. He also danced with Katherine Dunham's company, and founded a natioanl dance company in Haiti in the late 1940s. He first came to international attention in the 1940s, and remained prominet for decades afterword.  As a dancer, he performed well into old age.


Jean Michel Basquiat:
Born of a Haitian father and Puerto Rican mother, Jean Michel Basquiat was an American artist. He began as a graffiti artist in New York City in the late 1970s, and avolved into an acclaimed painter by the 1980s. Throughout his career, Basquiat focused on contradictions such as wealth versus poverty and integration versus segregation.



Jean Price-Mars:
A Haitian teacher, writer, and ethnographer, Jean Price-Mars served as secretary of the Haitian legislation in Washington and as charge d'affaires in Paris. He was Secretary of State of Haiti for external relations, and later an ambassador to the Dominican Republic. In his eighties, he continued his service as a Haitian ambassador at the United Nations, as well as an ambassador to France. 


John James Audubon:
An American ornithologist, naturalist, and painter, John James Audubon was born in the French colony Saint-Domingue, now Haiti. He was notable for his expansive studies to document all types of American birds, and for his detailed illustrations that depicted the birds in their natural habitats. His major work, a color-plate book entitled The Birds of America, is considred one of the finest ornithological works ever completed, especially with its 25 new identified species.


Josephine Premice:
A Haitian American actress and singer, Josephine Premice was known for her work on the Broadway stage. She featured in many shows, including Blue Holiday, Jamaica, A Hand is on the Gate, and Bubbling Brown Sugar. She was also known for her calypso recordings and fashion sense. In 2003, her daughter published a biography of Premice titled, "Always Wear Joy: My Mother, Bold and Beautiful."

Lina Mathon Blanchet:
Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Lina Mathon Blanchet is considered the "Matriarch of Haitian Music and Dance." She became a classical pianist at a very young age, and would perform at many venues across thec apital of Haiti, including the prestigious Rex Theater. In the late 1930s, her troupe, the Legba Singers, was the most prominent performance troupe in Haiti, with its folk songs and infusion of voudou and native dance movements. Her legacy remains as one of the pioneers of Haitian music and dance whose influence inspired many African-American female artists.

Luce Turnier:
Considered one of the best female Haitian artists, Luce Turnier was born and raised in Jacmel, Haiti. When she was 13 her family moved to Port-au-Prince, where she was able to join the Centre d'Art. She later went to exhibit her art with Maurice Borno at the Musee d'Art Moderne in Paris. Her works earned her many scholarship opportunities, allowing her to study and practice her art in New York City as well as in Paris. Her famous works have been exhibited across the world in Haiti, New York, Washington, Paris, and as far as Hamburg, Germany.



Lucienne Heurtelou:
Wife of Haitian President Dumarsais Estime, Lucienne Heurtelou was a Haitian diplomat, women's rights advocate, and author. She was the honorary president of the Ligue Feminine d'Action Sociale, an influential Haitian suffragist organization, created in 1934. She is also the first Haitian First Lady to have written her memiors, in which she delved into the undoing of her husband's presidency by his political enemies. In addition she became Haiti's first female ambassador after her husband's death in 1953.

Ludovic Lamothe:
Considered one of Haiti's most important classical composers, Ludovic Lamothe was a Haitian composer and virtuoso pianist. He is widely regarded for his ability to blend Europeans and Caribbean musical traditions, which appealed to all social and economic classes within Haiti. For example, elevated the common form of Carbbiean dances to the level of art music among the Haitian elite, yet mainatined their appeal to the working class of Haiti.His performances of Chopin's music greatly influenced his early composition style, earning himself the nickname, "The Black Chopin." 


Lumane Casimir:
Crowned as the Queen of the Meringes by Newsweek because of her sultry voice, Lumane Casimir was a famous Haitian singer from Gonaives, Haiti. By 13 she was discovered by a pianist who persuaded her to persue a musical career, and by 14 she moved to Port-au-Prince where she would sing in the streets to survive. She performed with some of the famous local bands, establishing herself as an artist. Years after her untimely death of 35, she was honored with the title, "Emperatrice of Haitian Music." 

Madeleine Sylvain-Bouchereau:
The first Haitian doctor of sociology, Madeleine Sylvain-Bouchereau was very involved in education for political citizenship of women in community mobilization and social assistance. She was born into a highly educated and activist family, allowing her passionate theoretical reflection of the common good to foster. Her feminism was not just a theoretical analysis tool of the material living conditions of women, but also as a practical struggle for the emanicipation of women.

Magalie Marcelin:
One of the greatest modern-day Haitian feminists, Magalie Marcelin is mostly known as an activist who helped victims of domestic violence in Haiti. She founded Kay Fanm, a shelter for domestic violence victims. In addition, she organized an international tribunal against violence and rape towards women in Haiti, leading to the Haitian government officially recognizing rape as a crime. She also founded REVIV, a center for young women who are survivors of sexual violence. She continued to fight for the rights of women until her death in the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.


Marie Chauvet:
One of Haiti's prominent figures in literature, Marie Chauvet is well-known for her innate ability to depict the powerful truths of Haitian society in her novels. She began her writing in Haiti at a young age, and by the time she was 12 she would write and perform her plays at home. Her greatest work, Amour, Colere et Folie was published in 1968, but due to the political and social themes in her novel, she was worried about the reaction of the regime and fled to New York City. With the resounding themes in the novel, this book is considered a literary classic.


Marie Clotilde "Toto" Bissainthe:
Known for her innovative blend of traditional Voudou, rural themes, and music with contemporary lyricism and arrangements, Marie Clotilde Bissainthe was a Haitian actress and singer. She was born in Cap-Haitien, but left at an early age to persue her studies abroad. Her career started in theatre with the company Griots, of which she was a founding member. She established herself as a singer-songwriter-composer with her soul-stirring renditions of original compositions that paid homage to the lives, struggles, miseries, and spirituality of the working class and rural Haitians.


Martha Jean Claude:
Born in Port-au-Prince, Martha Jean Claude is considered one of the most respected international Haitian artists. Her soulful voice connected deeply with the Haitian people through her lyrics of folklore. She was also an activist who avidly spoke against the abuses suffered by the population from the hands of those in power. Her legacy will always remain as one of the most successful actresses, dancers, compositors, philanthropists, activists, singers, and writers to come from Haiti.


Michaëlle Jean:
Former Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada, Michaëlle Jean is the current UNESCO Special Envoy for Haiti. She is the Co-President of the Michaëlle Jean Foundation. She shares her unique perspective on national and international issues through the prism of cultural diplomacy, philanthropy, good governance, deep diversity, and global solidarity.

Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange:
Born in Haiti and raised in Cuba, Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange was the founder of the Oblate Sisters of Providence, a Roman Catholic women's institution for the education of women of African descent. She came to Baltimore, Maryland, which at the time was settled by many French-speaking Catholics from the Caribbean. There she saw the need to educate the children of Caribbean slaves and immigrants, which was illegal at the time. She used her own money to found the first black Catholic school for African-American children in Baltimore.

Paulette Poujol-Oriol:
Born in Port-au-Prince, Paulette Poujol-Oriol was the daughter of Joseph Poujol, the founder of the Commercial Institute and the Augusta Auxila. She mastered six languages, and published her first novel in 1980, winning the Prix Henri Deschamps, just the second woman to have ever received that prestigious Haitian literary award. Over the course of her life as a prolific writer, relentless artist, and activist, she became one of Haiti's most highly acclaimed women. As a staunch female activist, she battled for women's causes and visibility in her writing as well as in practice.


Philomé Obin:
Born in Cap-Haitien, Philomé Obin received a rudimentary education in drawing. He was one of the greatest Haitian painters recognized internationally for his art. Most of his earlier paintings were displayed on cardboard, and depicted his interpretations of Haitian history and ordinary Haitian street scenes. He was discovered by Dewitt Peters, an American working for the US Office of Education, when a Centre d'Art was opened in Port-au-Prince. His work remains available in galleries from Haiti to New York.


Pierre Toussaint:
A former slave, Venerable Pierre Toussaint was brought to New York City in 1787 by his slaveowners from the French colony of Saint-Dominigue, present-day Haiti. After obtaining his freedom in 1807, he took on the name Toussaint in honor of the great Toussaint L 'Ouverture. He later went on to become one of the greatest philanthropists and humanitarians of New York city. Him and his wife were known for their many charitable works, including opening an orphanage in their home, creating an employment bureau, and developing a refuge for travelers. 


Solange "Sonia" Pierre:
Born in the Dominican Republic to Haitian immigrants, Solange "Sonia" Pierre is best known for her extraordinary work as the champion of human rights for Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian origin in the Dominican Republic. Her arduos fight to end antihaitianisnmo since the young age of 14, earned her international recognition from the late Senator Ted Kennedy, former First Lady Michelle Obama, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Thony Belizaire:

A Haitian photographer and photojournalist, Thony Belizaire reported for Agence France Presse for more than 25 years, until his death in 2013. He covered some of the most important stories in Haiti, including the 2010 earthquake, earning himself many awards for his journalism and photography. In addition, he founded the Union of Haitian Journalists and Photographers, as well as a contributor to Radio Kiskeya. Even though he suffered from oral cancer, he reported until the day he died. 



Toussaint L 'Ouverture:
The leader of the Haitian Revolution, Toussaint L 'Ouverture's military genius and political acumen led to the establishment of the independent black state of Haiti. He was the catalyst of the transforming of an entire society of slaves into a free, self-governing people. The success of the Haitian Revolution shook the institution of slavery throughout the New World.



W. E. B. Du Bois:
Born of an American mother and Haitian father, W.E.B. Du Bois was co-founder of NAACP, a civil rights organization in the United States, It was formed as a bi-racial organization to advance justice for African Americans. An author, editor, sociologist, historian, civil rights activist, and Pan-Africanist, he was the first African American to obtain a doctorate degree from Harvard.

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