Haitian flags flew high in North Miami as the city celebrated Haitian Heritage Month with several cultural events at the Museum of Contemporary Art.
The city-sponsored happenings at the museum in May, located on the corner of Northeast 125th Street and Northwest 8th Avenue, included musical performances and Haitian vendors serving food native to several regions of Haiti.
Themed “No Se Ayiti” or “We Are Haiti,” the events celebrated the pride of the island nation.
Earlier in the month, the museum showcased the “Through the Eyes of the Malfini” collection from Haitian photographer Conrad Schutt, live music from Belmot Telfort as well as performances by Ricky Danco, a Haitian-American dance company.
On May 18, the MOCA Plaza hosted a Haitian Flag Day celebration.
Kassandra Timothe, the public information officer for North Miami, said that the annual event is an opportunity for Haitians and non-Haitians to appreciate the culture.
“It’s something that the city takes pride in,” she said, “and it is a celebratory event for those who want to show their pride to the people of North Miami.”
May 18, Haitian Flag Day, commemorates the independence of the Haitian people from France in 1803. The day is considered a symbol of pride and respect for the struggle that many endured for freedom.
“Haitian Flag Day is much more than a day to us. It represents unity among the Haitian people,” said Linda Julien, an FIU grad and committee chair for the Haitian Heritage events. “We come together today to represent that we as a people are still here.”
South Florida, according to the Migration Information Institute, has the largest concentration of Haitian-Americans with the New York City region coming in close second. Currently, three of the five North Miami city council officials are Haitian, as is the North Miami city clerk.
“It is of great importance to them [the council] and to the community that we show support for Haitian Heritage Month,” Timothe said.
Several people attending the event said that they missed Haiti, not because of the life, but because of the memories and the closeness felt there.
“Any Haitian that you talk to wants to go back to Haiti at the end of the day,” said Steven Marcellus, a city employee who helped put on the events. “It’s not that Haiti is the problem. We just find that we have better opportunities in a place like the United States.”
The celebration continued throughout the evening with musical performances by Rara Lakay and the Kompa band and a comedic skit by the South Florida-based comedy group Haitian-American Productions. At the end of the night, soft solemn tunes were sung by the crowd gathered in front of the museum.
“The reason that we fly our Haitian flag high is to show that we came from the toughest times and places,” Julien said. “The Haitian flag represents that there is no mountain that we cannot move. There is no task that is ever too big. No se Ayiti. We are Haiti.”