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List of Famous People of Haitian Descent

Thanks to James L-C for permission to reprint the following list of famous people of Haitian descent. There were some surprises for me on this list. Anyone know of any to add? ~ed.


UPDATE: J.S. Alexis has emailed the following to the editors: “In your list of famous people of Haitian descent, you should add actor Sydney Poitier. His father was a Haitian farmer.”


POLITICAL


W.E.B. Dubois – Famous American Civil Rights Leader whose parents migrated from Haiti


Toussaint Louverture “The Black Napoleon” – Black Freedom fighter who in 1803 would open the way for the First Black Republic in the World, Ayiti (Haiti). He died in a french jail before seeing a free Haiti, which in 1804 became the 2nd country in the Americas after the U.S. to become independent


Jean-Jacques Dessalines – Leader of the First Black Republic in the World


Alexandre Petion – Haitian Leader who would help the founder of Latin American Independence, Simon Bolivar (The country of Bolivia is named after him), by providing weapons and soldiers with the promise Bolivar would free all the slaves in places he liberated. The flag of Venezuela was actually sewed together in Haiti


Henry Christophe – Famous Haitian King who build the Citadelle in Haiti which is a huge fortress representing freedom. As a young boy, he was one of many slave soldiers recruited by the French in then the colony of Saint Domingue (which would later become Haiti) to fight alongside the Americans in the American Revolution in 1779 against the British in Savanah Georgia. Today, there is a Statue in Savanah Georgia representing the little known fact of Haiti’s small contributions in U.S. History


ARTS & CULTURE


John James Audubon – Was born in Haiti and would become a legendary, revered bird watcher and art enthusiast in America. The Audubon Society is named after him


Jean Michel Basquiat – Son of Haitian and Puerto Rican parents who was a graffiti artist in NYC using the tag SAMO who would later become one of the most successful, controversial and glamorous artists in the world


Jacques Stephen Alexis – Haitian writer who is a descendant of Jean-Jacques Dessalines. One of his works is GENERAL SUN, MY BROTHER


Ludovic Lamothe – A graduate of L’Institution Saint Louis de Gonzague in Port-au-Prince Haiti, he was sent to Paris to study music composition. He is one of Haiti’s most renowned classical composers


Wyclef Jean – Musician, singer and producer who founded the Fugees


Praz – The other guy from the Fugees


Won-G – Haitian American Rapper who has a video out with Paris Hilton. Wait…Not that kind of video (imagine the outrage of P.H. caught doing it with a black guy). This one is actually not rated X and is a music video


Edwidge Danticat – Famous Haitian American writer of such books like THE FARMING OF THE BONES and KRIC? KRAC?


Quddus – Haitian Canadian MTV VJ / Model


Oswald Durant – Haitian Poet who wrote “choucoune” which would later become the lyrics for the songs “little bird” by Harry Belafonte.


Alexandre Dumas – French writer who is the son of a Haitian slave woman and a French soldier. His famous writings includes, THE THREE MUSKETEERS and THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO


Gabrielle Casseus – Actor in movies such as BLACK HAWK DOWN, and BEDAZZLED


Vanessa Williams – Not the singer, but the one who acts in SOUL FOOD the series.


Tyrone Edmond – Famous Haitian model


Jimmy Saint Louis – Famous Haitian actor / model. He was in THE BOURNE IDENTITY, TEARS OF THE SUN, and soon to be released THE GAMES OF THEIR LIVES where he plays the role of Haitian Joe Gaetzens (see sports below). {I have a cameo in this movie by the way, where I play the role of soccer players Eddie Pope and Robin Frazer J


Garcelle Beauvais – Born in Haiti and moved to NY. She would become a model than an actress on NYPD Blue


Gary Dourdain – Actor from CSI Las Vegas. His parents or grandparents came from Haiti. Sadly enough, his older brother died in Haiti (there are questions as to whether he was pushed off a balcony, or simply fell) while on a visit there to research his Haitian lineage


Marjorie Vincent – Daughter of Haitian immigrants who would become Miss America in 1991


Raoul Peck – Haitian Film director who has many films in his credits. One of which is the famous documentary LUMUMBA: Death of a Prophet


Josephine Premice – Haitian born American actress/dancer/singer. Some of her acting credits is THE JEFFERSONS, THE COSBY SHOW, A DIFFERENT WORLD…


Rene Depestre – Famous Haitian writer of many books, one of which is THE FESTIVAL OF THE GREASY POLE


Jacques Roumain – Famous Haitian writer and one of his most famous work is GOUVERNEURS DE LA ROSEE


Jean-Jean Pierre – Haitian composer, musician, journalist, and playwright, who was profiled on the New York Times Public Lives segment in December 23rd 2004


Ronal and Rony Delice – Haitian Brothers who are acclaimed fashion designers in New York City


RELIGION


Pierre Toussaint – Haitian born slave who is under consideration by the Vatican for canonization for his humanitarian work in New York


Elizabeth Clarisse Lange – Freed slave who first migrated to Cuba then to Baltimore, Maryland. In Baltimore, she founded the first Catholic school for black children, the St. Francis Academy. Today, she is also being considered for canonization by the Vatican


OTHERS WORTH MENTIONING


Jean Baptiste Pointe Du Sable – Free Black Slave from Haiti who would become a very successful trader in America. In 1779, he established the first permanent settlement of the city of Chicago. He is known today as the founder of that city.


Dr. Rose Marie Toussaint – One of only two women liver transplant surgeon in the world


Joseph Laroche – Haitian businessman traveling with his french wife and kids on the Titanic which was somewhat of a choc to people to see a black man and his white wife traveling aboard a very expensive ocean liner at that time. He was taking his family to live in Haiti when he died with many others on the sunken ship. We all know what happened. She along with their 2 kids survived. He didn’t. He was the only black man to die on the Titanic. His wife and kids never made it to Haiti as they decided to return to France


Dr. Carole Berotte Joseph – She is the new president of MassBay Community College in Massachussetts


SPORTS


Joe Gaetjens – Haitian born soccer player who scored amazing goal for the underdog U.S. in match against mighty England in 1950 World Cup of Soccer in Brazil. This game is still today one of the biggest upset in sports history. He would later die under mysterious circumstances in Haiti under Papa Doc (see below). In 1976 he was inducted into the United States Soccer Federation Hall of fame.


William Joseph – DT for NY Giants


Jonathan Vilma – LB for NY Jets


Samuel Dalembert – C for Philadelphia 76rs


Mario Elie – Former G for Houston Rockets


Olden Polynice – Former NBA player


Bruny Surin – Haitian / Canadian Track and field star


WISH THEY WEREN’T HAITIANS


Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier along with his father Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier, combined to ruled Haiti under a brutal dictatorship for about 30 yrs. Papa Doc was the inspiration of Graham Greene in his book and movie adaptation of THE COMEDIANS. When Baby Doc left for France in 1986, it is estimated he took most of the country’s wealth with him. Today he lives broke in the South of France with his wife having taken most of the stolen money before leaving him


WISH THEY WERE HAITIANS


Danny Glover – American Actor and Activist who’s been working for the past decade to get Hollywood to make a movie on TOUSSAINT LOUVERTURE. Unfortunately, Hollywood thinks the story is too black.


Jonathan Demme – Film Producer who just recently released THE AGRONOMIST a story of Haitian journalist Jean Dominique who died under shady circumstances


Lauryn Hill – Much love for you girl. Can’t wait for the FUGEES reunion concert this summer in Haiti. You bet I will be on the plane to PAP


Katherine Dunham – The Matriarch of black American dance, she spend many years in Haiti studying Haitian dances. She incorporates many Haitian dances in her works. If you found this instructive, let me know. If I am missing anyone from this list, let me know. My job is to promote my culture in a positive light and if you have learned something new, than I did a good job. Like we say in kreyol, “deye mon se mon”, which means behind every mountains is many more mountains – in short, the struggle continues.


Peace! J

29 Comments

  1. Haitian American:PhD in Leadership Education,writer and Inventor.

    Friday, January 24, 2014 at 8:35 pm | Permalink
  2. Thank you for the info about the Brother’s and Sister’s from Haiti.

    Saturday, February 15, 2014 at 9:23 pm | Permalink
  3. LuckyJ wrote:

    This a great post. Many people that comments on this blog are very intelligent,educated and did a great research. Then again; there’s a lot who has no idea about Haiti’s history and it’s people talent. I myself is Haitian, I was born in the Bahama, raised in Haiti and I grew up in the U.S. I am very proud of my Haitian Ancestors, except the dictators like the Boyers, Duvalier and etc. Haiti it’s people are reach mentally, physically, spiritually and most of all resilient. All these celebrities and low life uneducated Haitians that are ashamed of being Haitian can go burn in hell just like those who’ve done so much even to Haiti and it’s peoples. We all know why Haiti is in the situation it is in today. Our history speaks for itself. We have a rich and very disastrous history, but we are still standing. The reason why. It’s because our resilience would not let anyone discourage us and we have have the Almighty on our side. God is on our side, that’s why we’ve struggle will never end. What we seem to forget is that money is evil, and all these so- called super power countries economy is made out of evil doing. Haiti’s struggle today is because of France, U.S, England, Spain. The robbed our country then hired bunch of evil dictators to still from the country even more. All those countries that has stolen and Haiti and oppressed its people God will have no mercy on them. I love being Haitian, I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. No matter how bad white American society and brainwashed the masses. Haitian for life. We was the first Black freedom fighter in the world. Freedom was not handed to us like the these other little islands nations around the world. My Haitian ancestors and Haitians today have made great contributions around the world. North America, Europe, Latin America, South America, Africa and every else in the world. Especially in the U.S, Latin America, South America and Europe/France. That’s why we are the most hated Blacks, our accomplishments/Resume speaks for itself. No other country can endure our struggles and meet our accomplishments. Now Dumbinicans have the balls to disrespect us! Are their serious? They seem to forget who we are and what we are capable of. Them brainwashed, miseducated, lazy ass hypocrites. Haitians 4 life!

    Monday, March 10, 2014 at 1:15 am | Permalink
  4. el b. wrote:

    U call praz the other guy!!!! It was pras and Luaryn that founded the group NOT wyclef He also wrote.and produced….why mention him.if u.gonna diss him..give him his props isn’t.this what this is all about???.smh

    Thursday, April 24, 2014 at 4:10 pm | Permalink
  5. Ronald wrote:

    Blake Griffin( plays professional basketball for the los Angeles clippers) is haitian.

    Sunday, April 27, 2014 at 5:04 pm | Permalink
  6. Https://Www. wrote:

    Je suis arrivée sur votre site internet par hasard et je ne le regrette
    nullement !

    Wednesday, May 21, 2014 at 2:56 pm | Permalink
  7. google plus wrote:

    Hi, I desire to subscribe for this webpage to get most up-to-date updates, thus where can i do it please help.

    Wednesday, May 21, 2014 at 9:14 pm | Permalink
  8. Pachuco wrote:

    W.E. Du Bois was Haitian. William Du Bois’s paternal great-grandfather was an ethnic French-American, James Du Bois of Poughkeepsie, New York, who fathered several children with slave mistresses.[5] One of James’ mixed-race sons was Alexander, who traveled to Haiti, and fathered a son, Alfred, with a mistress there. Alexander returned to Connecticut, leaving Alfred in Haiti with his mother.[6] Alfred moved to the United States sometime before 1860, and married Mary Silvina Burghardt on February 5, 1867, in Housatonic, Massachusetts.[6] Alfred left Mary in 1870, two years after William was born.[7] William’s mother worked to support her family (receiving some assistance from her brother and neighbors), until she experienced a stroke in the early 1880s. She died in 1885.
    But, Vanessa Williams on the contrary has American roots dating back to pre-civil war(she did research herself and is published online).

    Thursday, May 22, 2014 at 7:36 am | Permalink
  9. stumax wrote:

    You can subscribe to this page’s comments using this RSS feed: http://journal.thelouvertureproject.org/archives/list-of-famous-people-of-haitian-descent/feed/

    Thursday, May 22, 2014 at 9:09 am | Permalink
  10. Pepe wrote:

    I happen to love Haiti and some Haitians, but after reading this site it looks as if you have the same problems we black Americans have; a self hatred, a suspicion of light skinned blacks, a desperation to attach yourselves to successful blacks who ignore you, but still have no pride in yourselves and your culture. You have so much to be proud of; I love the idea that blacks in Haiti won their freedom. Never learned this in school. For nothing else, you have much to love and be proud of. Hold your heads up for this and no need to pluck celebrities, doctors, lawyers, etc. from the ether. Your ancestors earned it for you.

    Sunday, June 29, 2014 at 5:28 pm | Permalink
  11. tank wrote:

    louna if you so pround. why you here ppl tell me. by the way i was born in leoganne voodoo town

    Friday, July 18, 2014 at 8:18 pm | Permalink
  12. tank wrote:

    ki te mele moudame avec sa ou ap di les nous gin problem avec haitien paraille nous. nous blie kote nou sorti .no body ignorant or jealous ok its call opinion

    Sunday, July 20, 2014 at 6:03 pm | Permalink
  13. irene alexis wrote:

    Andrise casimir known as queen valencia is a singer sing and dance salsa, haitian roots, gospel abd blues she is a songwriter dancer choreographer and actress Haitian descent live in the east village NYC

    Sunday, August 17, 2014 at 8:48 am | Permalink
  14. Mary Lanier wrote:

    my grandparents were from Haiti never been there but would love to know more.

    Thursday, October 2, 2014 at 5:26 am | Permalink
  15. Marie-Yolene wrote:

    you have forgotten to include in your “WISH THEY WERE HAITIANS” Ms. Lavinia Williams. She was an American born dancer who move to Haiti together with Katherine Durnhamm. She had a well-known dancing school located on the “Champs de Mars”.

    Saturday, October 11, 2014 at 1:46 pm | Permalink
  16. alex wrote:

    Hi I’m an italian book author. For my new story I need to know if in New York there are some famous haitians buried in a cemetery. I know Pierre Toussaint but his grave is in St. Patrick church, Jean Michel Basquiat (you can add in your list) at Greenwood cemetery… anyone else?
    Thank you in advance
    Alex

    Thursday, October 23, 2014 at 12:23 am | Permalink
  17. jerry wrote:

    In other words, the world would have been little diminished had there been no Haitians.

    Friday, October 24, 2014 at 8:49 am | Permalink
  18. Pierre wrote:

    To #142 (Ogun Fe) – Toussaint was a far greater man than Dessalines. Not only did he defeat the French, British and Spanish (while Dessalines only defeated the final, yellow-fever stricken remnants of the French army), but he recognized that Haiti needed all races – black, white and mulatto – to work together to rebuild society. Dessalines didn’t share his vision and tried to kill as many whites as possible, destroying Haiti’s economy in the process. Haiti’s history would have been far brighter if Toussaint had been its first president.

    Sunday, December 21, 2014 at 8:34 pm | Permalink
  19. Haiti Boy wrote:

    i think Romane Simon award winning filmmaker and author of the best selling book “RED TO BLACK” (The power of love)
    i think he should be on that list he is also the great-son of haiti former president

    Tuesday, December 30, 2014 at 10:39 pm | Permalink
  20. sada read wrote:

    I do nt wish i was haitian bt wish i could speak french

    Monday, February 9, 2015 at 3:45 pm | Permalink
  21. suzieAlvarez wrote:

    I’m soooo immensely proud to be of Haitian descendants I was born in the Bahamas and grew up in Miami my mom is from. Dominican Republic and my dad is Haitian they met in Nassau married had me and my moms kids came of on DR to the USA…i use to get offended when iam asked where im from then I always hear u dont look like one of them..one of who? I speak kreyol and Spanish as well as French and I want it known that I’m proud of my heritage.. I’m raising my kids the same way.Living ib this country i have alot of friends and have come across soany different Haitian mixture but overwhelming the majority r attached to there Haitan roots… .Haitians+asian,chinese,russian,Ricans,Africa, Mexicans,Peru, and on and on…Proud Haitians..??

    Monday, March 23, 2015 at 1:39 pm | Permalink
  22. Haitien born international soccer player,U.S Certifier Coach Dukens Dorisca.
    Top 10 soccer skills in the world Dukens Dorisca

    Friday, May 29, 2015 at 3:04 pm | Permalink
  23. Edlyne verna wrote:

    Biassou was general who fought in Jacksonville he was born in Haiti. His house is still standing in Jacksonville,FL he was the highest paid general of his time. I’m not sure if someone else mentioned it before.

    Monday, June 1, 2015 at 11:19 pm | Permalink
  24. Jean Ulysse wrote:

    Similien, I am proud of you. whoever is ashamed to be haitian doesn’t know the history of this great country. I always consider myself as an ambassador of my dear Haiti “Thomas”. I feel sorry for the losers who sold their souls to a foreign country just because they have an opportunity to make some money while losing their pride.

    Friday, August 14, 2015 at 4:48 pm | Permalink
  25. Rodne Daniel wrote:

    There are much more than that , more recently , by exemple Jason desrouleaux , son of my friend

    Wednesday, August 19, 2015 at 5:54 pm | Permalink
  26. PHILLIPA LOUIS-JEAN wrote:

    I live in a world where you are mistreated judged and abused verbally and physically for being Haitian. This gives me hope for myself and my son.

    Tuesday, September 8, 2015 at 10:34 am | Permalink
  27. Evens Romain wrote:

    THE FIRST HAITIANS IN AMERICA
    During the 1790s, Haiti was the most affluent of the French colonies. It was then that the black populace of the island revolted against slavery and there was a panicked exodus. Thousands of whites, free blacks, and slaves fled to American seaports, culminating in large French-speaking communities in New Orleans, Norfolk, Baltimore, New York City, and Boston. Immigrants from Haiti who arrived in the United States during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were determined to survive in their new land. Jean-Baptiste Point du Sable, a trapper who settled on the shore of Lake Michigan was an early Haitian arrival; he settled and established a trading post on the river at a point that would later become the City of Chicago. Pierre Toussaint, a devout Catholic who came to New York as a slave of a French family in 1787, became a prominent hair dresser to wealthy New York patrons and also became a fund-raiser who helped the poor and destitute. France was a safe haven for many educated Haitians, and only a few middle-class Haitians chose to go to the United States. Many of them stayed to receive a university education. A renowned poet and playwright, Felix Morisseau-Leroy was one of the post-World War II immigrants.

    Read more: http://www.everyculture.com/multi/Du-Ha/Haitian-Americans.html#ixzz3sIZ4dLCH

    Sunday, November 22, 2015 at 10:45 pm | Permalink
  28. Evens Romain wrote:

    What reaction do you usually receive when you inform folks that you are Haitian?

    From non-Haitians, I get surprise. From Haitians, most often I get disbelief; and all too often unease follows the disbelief—class awareness, deduced only because of my skin color, quickly seeps in, and creates distance. Many Haitian people, without knowing a thing about me—my professional strivings, my emotional, socio-political, or spiritual foundations—react to what my skin color represents to them, and not to who I am. In this way, they rob me of my greater humanity. They unwittingly reinforce the enduring solitude in being a Haitian away from home.

    Of course, much of this discomfort depends on who my interlocutor is, what his or her own internal Haïti is, and what experience of the Haitian mulatto class he or she has. On the whole, I have found that the Haitian who has grown up in the U.S. from an early age, or from adolescence even, is much more free of these social impediments to spontaneous human interaction.

    I had a wonderful experience in the Fall of 2011, teaching poetry writing, in Kreyòl, to three classes of Haitian children at the Kenney School, in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood. Their jaws dropped when they first saw me enter the class when they expected a new Haitian poetry teacher. But they cheered me afterwards, and each time I came into the classroom. “Bonjou timoun, kouman nou ye?” “Byen Madam!” I soon had them write poetry they never imagined they would; I had them dance freely, repeating after me this sentence from a poem I wrote for them, “Madi Gra, m pa pè w, se moun ou ye!—masked man, I am not afraid of you, you are human!”

    Marilène Phipps Kettlewell on her childhood

    Monday, November 23, 2015 at 12:46 am | Permalink
  29. Nicole E wrote:

    Does anyone know if Haitian slaves were ever brought into North Carolina and if so what part?

    Sunday, November 29, 2015 at 3:18 am | Permalink

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