Can you name Haiti’s only king? How long did the American Occupation last? In what year did Haitian women get the right to vote? A Haitian trivia quiz was one of the highlights of the Haitian Roundtable’s annual “Black History is Haitian History” event on February 28. The lively virtual event, hosted by Emmy-Award winning tv host Lionel Moise, also featured a cooking demonstration by Chef Nadège Fleurimond. In keeping with our mission of reinforcing a positive narrative about Haiti, we celebrated three high-achieving Haitian Americans: Karine Apollon, first chief diversity officer for the New York City Department of Education; Hon. Rita Joseph, a member of the New York City Council representing Brooklyn and Errol Pierre, first vice president for state systems at HealthFirst.

Honoring Haitian History as Black History 

During February, the Haitian Roundtable commemorates Black History Month by celebrating Haitian independence, history and culture.

For 2021, we honor three contemporary Haitian heroes: Humanitarian Marguerite Erasme Lathan, NYC Council Member Farah N. Louis and Elie Mystal, Justice Correspondent for The Nation magazine.

Lathan, a licensed clinical therapist, serves on the board of Fonkoze USA and Fonkoze Haiti Foundation.  Fonkoze is a family of organizations that, for the past 26 years, have worked together to empower Haitians, primarily women, to extricate their families out of the grip of poverty. Marguerite is also the International Trends and Services chair of the Beverly Hills West Chapter of The Links, Inc. mentoring middle schoolers and exposing them to cultures around the globe.

Louis represents New York’s 45th district on the New York City Council. Since assuming office in 2019, Council Member Louis has been a champion for affordable housing, small business sustainability, and equitable healthcare. She continues to tackle challenging social issues as Vice Co-Chair of the Black, Latino/a and Asian Caucus while taking a stand for gender equity as the Co-Chair of the Women’s Caucus.

Mystal is The Nation’s justice correspondent—covering the courts, the criminal justice system, and politics—and the force behind the magazine’s monthly column “Objection!” He is also an Alfred Knobler Fellow at the Type Media Center. Mystal is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, a former associate at Debevoise & Plimpton, and a lifelong New York Mets fan. He can be followed @ElieNYC.

On February 4, 2020, The Haitian Roundtable hosted its second annual program recognizing Haitian Independence and Black History Month in a sold-out event at Brooklyn’s BK9 restaurant. This program was created to raise more public awareness about the significance and relevance of Haitian History in America.

During the program, we also recognized leaders and organizations within our community reflecting a new generation, charting new paths and representing the best in our community to the nation.

Our 2020 Haitian Independence Award Honorees:

Frank D. Joseph II
Deputy Commissioner, NYC Human Rights Commission

Tanya St. Julien
Chief of Staff, Leadership for Educational Equity

Jacques Tassy
Founder and CEO, The Jacques Custom Fashion

The Gentlemen’s Factory

For photos from this program click here.