May is Haitian Heritage Month, a time to celebrate the rich history and culture of Haiti and its people. As the third-largest country in the Caribbean, Haiti is known for its vibrant culture, fascinating history and resilient people.
Haiti had heartbreaking but inspiring struggles against France, culminating in 1804 when it became the second-ever country in the Western Hemisphere to gain independence from a European colonizer. The country’s history has always been tumultuous, and its culture is equally rich and interesting. Needless to say, Haiti has a unique presence in the Caribbean and beyond.
Haitian Heritage Month is celebrated in May to coincide with Haitian Flag Day on May 18. This holiday celebrates the creation and adoption of Haiti’s national flag — defining moments of the Haitian Revolution. By extension, the whole month of May celebrates the contributions and culture of Haitians, especially within the U.S. In fact, Haitian Heritage Month was first recognized in Boston in 1998 and is now celebrated all across the nation. With an influx of Caribbean diaspora settled in South Florida, it has become an area well revered for Caribbean culture.
Want to join in? Here are five things you can do to celebrate Haiti during Haitian Heritage Month.
Attend the Haitian Compas Festival in Miami
Haitian-Americans are the largest non-Hispanic Caribbean population in Florida, particularly in South Florida. It’s no surprise that one of the biggest Haitian music festivals, the Haitian Compas Festival, is held in Miami. Secure your tickets for May 20 at Bayfront Park to see performances by artists including Kodak Black, T-Vice, Kai and Nu Look.
Go See Miami New Drama’s Theater Premiere of “Create Dangerously”
Miami New Drama’s production of “Create Dangerously” is a play exploring themes of identity and creativity through the lens of Haitian-American immigrants. Based on the book of the same name by Edwidge Danticat, this powerful play showcases the perseverance of immigrant artists. Check it out from May 4 to May 28 at the Colony Theater in Miami Beach.
Hear the Sounds of Little Haiti at the Little Haiti Cultural Center
Explore the colorful music scene of Florida’s most iconic Haitian community through the “Sounds of Little Haiti” event. It’s held every third Friday at the Little Haiti Cultural Center in Miami. This month, it’s May 19. Since it’s Haitian Heritage Month, there’ll be an emphasis on one of Haiti’s signature music genres: kompa!
Reminisce at the “Nostalgia Primitive D’Haiti” Exhibit at the Haitian Heritage Museum
For art lovers, the Haitian Heritage Museum is unveiling the “Nostalgia Primitive D’Haiti” this Haitian Heritage Month. The exhibit features artwork by Haitian artists that showcase sentimental everyday moments in Haiti’s past. Even if you can’t stop by for the grand opening on May 6, the exhibition will be showing until November 18!
Explore Haiti and Florida’s Connection at the Celebrating Freedom Events
Last but not least, consider attending the Celebrating Freedom events at the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center in Fort Lauderdale. This three-day seminar-meets-party event celebrates Haitian Flag Day (May 18), Florida’s Emancipation Day (May 20), and the unique interconnectedness of the two places and their communities (May 19).
Whether you attend a festival, visit a museum, see a play, or just learn about Haitian Heritage Month online, there are plenty of opportunities to celebrate Haiti and connect with the Haitian community. So, this May, take some time to honor the incredible contributions and legacy of Haiti!