A Tribute to Ossie Davis from Haiti Progres

With full credit to “Haiti Progres”:http://www.haitiprogres.com


* THIS WEEK IN HAITI *
March 2 – 8, 2005
Vol. 22, No. 51

FEBRUARY 28, 2005:

A TRIBUTE TO OSSIE DAVIS
by Milton Leblanc

Ossie was a friend of mine.

Ossie was a friend of all of us who fight for justice and dignity for
every human being.

This kind a gentle man was able with his soft demeanor to affect
monumental changes in the world.

He eulogized the great Malcolm X, after his brutal assassination on
February 21, 1965. He then eulogized Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, after
his assassination on April 4, 1968. There are no eulogies left for
Ossie.

He gave us the best that can be found in any man. He lived a life of
struggle, with his lovely queen, Ruby Dee, he walked the walk and
talked the talk.

For those of us who had the pleasure of meeting him, he left an
unforgettable mark. For those that experienced his presence through
films and other public appearances, he always portrayed the honest
and the good in all us. He left us an incredible legacy… that of a
sensitized man who championed the cause of the less fortunate.

The quintessential “artiste engagé,” he participated in the major
struggles of the 20th century. He ranks among those who attain a
privileged and popular place in society but never forget their roots:
the roots of poverty, discrimination, apathy and abuse performed by
those who have material means at their disposal against those who do
not have those means.

Ossie will be missed. It is so hard to fill the shoes of one who
accomplished so much and meant so much too so many. He was a tireless
worker. He engaged all his faculties and all his artistic talents to
bring change where change was needed. He opposed despots and despotic
measures that impede human progress.

It was in that capacity that he graced the Haitian people and the
Haitian struggle when he hosted for the Haiti Support Network (HSN)
the New York premiere of Raoul Peck’s film “Man by the Shore” on
January 25, 1996. Along with his lifelong companion Ruby Dee, he
joined other hosts of the evening including Ramsey Clark, former U.S.
attorney general, Michael Moore, the noted documentary filmmaker,
David Dinkins, former mayor of New York City, and other freedom
loving people in support of the Haitian cause.

Our paths crossed again when Ossie spoke at an April 7, 2004 rally at
Brooklyn College organized by the HSN and the International Action
Center to protest the February 29, 2004 coup. There, Ossie spoke
about his childhood interest in Toussaint Louverture and Jean-Jacques
Dessalines and about the Haitian revolution as an inspiration for his
own life and of the pride that he felt speaking about the first
successful slave rebellion in the world.

Ossie identified with Haiti and Haitians because he knew that
injustice against and indifference to Haitians and Haiti meant the
same injustice against and indifference to all people who fight for
justice everywhere.

Ossie knew that the same oppressors responsible for the Haitian
debacle were the same oppressors that are responsible for abusing the
materially poor peoples of the world. From Ossie, we learn that
Haiti’s current struggle reflect the struggles against slavery and
against world domination by the remaining “superpower.”

The people of Haiti have lost a great friend, someone who understood
our struggle,who lived our struggle, and who walked comfortably in
our shoes as if they were his own. We lost one of us.

Ossie was one of our most prominent soldiers. We have lost a true
warrior, and we are poorer because of it. But we march on because
this great man, this great advocate of freedom, always marched with
us and for us.

Thank you Ruby. Thanks Ossie. Brother, you will be missed.

All articles copyrighted Haiti Progres, Inc. REPRINTS ENCOURAGED.
Please credit Haiti Progres.

Big News from Danny Glover

Danny Glover, star of the Lethal Weapon series and numerous other movies, yesterday announced the formation of a new production company: Louverture Films. The new company will focus on films that have “historical relevance, social purpose, commercial value and artistic integrity.”

Most interesting and exciting for readers of The Louverture Project is the announcement that:

bq. Glover will direct Louverture’s historic action epic _Toussaint_, based on the Haitian Revolution (1789-1804) and the life of Toussaint Louverture, a former slave who rallied blacks.

Glover and longtime collaborator, director Jonathan Demme, have reportedly been interested in shooting a film based on the life of Louverture for some time, but have not been able to get the project off the ground. We wish Glover much success and will be watching the new company with keen interest.

Read the full AP article at News24.com.

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 Durand – 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~