By Haitian Times Editorial Staff
On Jan. 24, the Haitian Roundtable presented three recognition awards — including an Honorary Haitian Award– at their Kreyol Connection Haiti Independence Reception in Harlem.
Brooklyn Council Member Jumaane D. Williams, Samuel Pierre executive director of Haitian American Caucus (HAC) and Wynnie Lamour founder of the Haitian Creole Language Institute (HCLI), were celebrated at the special reception for their work in the Haitian community. Williams, who is of Grenadian heritage, received the Honorary Haitian Award for his commitment to the Haitian community.
“As an elected representative of a shared area with the largest Haitian community outside of Haiti and Florida, I take very seriously the responsibility of contributing to the ongoing mission of remembrance, recovery and rebuilding,” said Williams. “As a Black man living in the United States, I recognize the role Haiti played in abolition. As an American, I recognize the role Haiti played in doubling the size of our country and increasing its power. I’m proud and honored for this recognition.”
This is only the third time HRT presented an Honorary Haitian Award. Typically their awards are reserved for trailblazers of Haitian descent. The Honorary Haitian Award recognizes an individual who is not of Haitian descent, but whose leadership has helped the Haitian community as well as galvanized national and worldwide support for Haiti.
Williams, who represents one of the largest Haitian communities living outside of Haiti, has long been an advocate for the Haitian community.
In the immediate aftermath of the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti in January 2010, Williams and his staff organized the 45th District Haitian Relief Coalition comprised of local organizations and churches. Most recently, the relief coalition was re-activated following Hurricane Matthew.
In addition to relief efforts for the Haitian community here and abroad, the councilman has sponsored immigrants’ rights forums and signed a resolution calling for the Department of Homeland Security to re-designate Temporary Protected Status for Haitians affected by Hurricane Matthew. He also advocated for the creation of the Haitian Studies Institute at Brooklyn College, and was a loud voice of opposition when Haitian-Dominicos were being forced out of the Dominican Republic.
Lamour, the second honoree, works to preserve and share Haiti’s native tongue, through her Haitian Kreyol classes.
She initially started out with what was supposed to be a one time Kreyol instruction workshop at Brooklyn Brainery in 2010, however the interest was so great that she eventually started giving private and group lessons. In 2013 she officially founded HCLI, and is currently teaching her fourth semester of Haitian Kreyol at New York University. Her students come from all backgrounds, all with the shared interest of learning the Kreyol language.
“It means so much to be honored by the Haitian Roundtable, an organization that I’ve admired and been inspired by for so long,” Lamour said. “HCLI feels incredibly humbled to be in the presence of such visionaries and we hope to continue blazing trails, just as our ancestors did back at the turn of the 19th century.”
Pierre, who accepted the award on behalf of HAC, is one of three founders of the grassroots organization that was founded in 2009.
Only a month after their official launch, HAC was hit with a major challenge, where they had no choice but to step up. The devastating 2010 earthquake hit Haiti and the newly-created nonprofit shore up all of their resources to provide relief to survivors in Haiti. Now seven years later, the coalition of young professionals and community organizers are one of the premier organizations in the community, providing enrichment workshops and seminars for the Haitian community in Brooklyn.
“On behalf of the Haitian-American Caucus US & Haiti (HAC), we are extremely honored to be recognized by the Haitian Round Table (HRT) as a recipient of the 2017 Special Recognition Award, ” said Sam Pierre, Executive Director, Haitian American Caucus. “HAC has been hitting the pavement on the ground in the U.S. and in Haiti since our inception in 2009 and we plan to help much more through our humanitarian and community development efforts. It is always good to be recognized for the work you do, but it is even better to use these moments as the fuel to continue to drive the mission forward. Thanks again HRT and to our members for supporting our causes.”
HRT celebrates the trailblazers and visionaries of the Haitian community. Last November they inducted their fourth class of the 1804 List — an award ceremony recognizing the movers and shakers of the community. HRT is currently taking nominations for the 2017 1804 list.
To nominate someone, click here