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.”


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


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


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


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


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


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


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~

185 thoughts on “List of Famous People of Haitian Descent”

  1. 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!

  2. 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

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

  4. 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).

  5. 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.

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

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. 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”.

  10. 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

  11. 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.

  12. 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

  13. 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 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..??

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

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

  17. 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.

    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:

  19. 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

  20. I appreciate this wealth of information. Please keep me posted for updates.

  21. Lavinia Williams had two daughters…Laviniah and Sarah who emigrated to the US after the death of her MoM. I’ve seen her once many years ago in the City and she confided to me that had become a professional dancer if my memory’s correct for the “Alvin Hailey dance Theater”> Please verify or investigate if the info is correct?

  22. Dear Friends,

    Thank you for your wonderful work. I recently found out that my biological father, Lionel Durand 1920 (born in Port au Prince)-1961 (died in Paris), was a fighter in the French Resistance (twice escaped Nazis), friend with Picasso, eminent journalist, worked for Voice of America in NYC, Here is his story on the site of the forensic genealogist who helped me find him. See link below which you can copy & paste if it doesn’t open up directly.

    I am seeking advice as how to get Lionel Durand placed on Famous Haitians list. Any suggestions gratefully welcome.

    Morgan Best wishes. Stay healthy Morgan Zo Callaha

  23. Thanks so much for letting me know! I’ve corrected Mr. Durand’s name and linked to his Wikipedia article.

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