The Mayor of Phoenix, Arizona, Greg Stanton, Proclaims May 18, 2016 As Haitian Flag Day
” The Haitian flag is a symbol of pride, liberty and a momentous struggle for freedom for millions of Haitians and hundreds of thousands of Haitian-Americans. It originated from the Haitian Revolution when African slaves emancipated themselves from French colonial rule in 1804. The Revolution is one of the most significant rebellions in human history, as the revolutionaries were not only the first in Latin America and the Caribbean to gain independence from European colonial rule, but also the first and only slave uprising to ever lead to an entirely new state free of slavery.
When escaped slaves began organizing in the forests of inland Haiti (then called Saint-Domingue) in 1791, they organized under the tricolor French flag – a product of the recent French Revolution and, to them, a symbol of freedom for all men. Over the next decade, the rebels were able to forge alliances and effectively outmaneuver the French colonial forces. Before ultimately marching on the capital of Port-Au-Prince, the united rebellion forces decided upon a flag on May 18, 1803 – an adaptation of the French Tricolor, borrowing its red and blue bands. The blue is said to symbolize the African slaves who were brought to Haiti, and the red represents Haitians with mixed ancestry – those who came together to liberate Haiti.
After decisive battles in the fall of 1803, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, commander of the revolutionary forces, declared independence on January 1, 1804 and renamed the country “Haiti,” its indigenous Arawak name. Dessalines soon became Haiti’s head-of-state and delivered his “Liberty or Death” speech in June 1804, in which he articulated the mission of a new, free nation that’s objective was the permanent abolition of slavery.
To celebrate their hard-earned freedom, every year on May 18 Haitians across the world come together to commemorate Haitian Flag Day. In Port-au-Prince, Haitians gather on the grounds of their national palace to join in celebration, and Haitian-Americans often carry red and blue colors with them for the week of Haitian Flag Day. In recent years, Haiti has suffered heartbreaking setbacks due to natural disasters and political instability. We in Phoenix proudly stand with the Haitian people and continue to welcome relocating Haitian refugees and immigrants. We embrace this added diversity and celebrate their contributions to our city’s vibrant culture.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, GREG STANTON, Mayor of the City of Phoenix, Arizona, do hereby proclaim May 18, 2016 as
HAITIAN FLAG DAY
and ask each resident to join me in celebrating this holiday with our Haitian neighbors and recognizing their contributions to our community.”