NEW YORK, New York – The New York State Assembly has passed a resolution formally designating May as Haitian Heritage Month.
It was introduced by Haitian American Assemblymember, Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, who chairs the Brooklyn Democratic Party. It was co-sponsored by 15 members of the New York State Assembly.
“We are a people that have been fighting for our freedom for generation after generation, including in America,” said Bichotte Hermelyn, speaking from the Assembly Chamber and referring to the period in 1779 when Haitians fought alongside the Union in the Battle of Savannah in Georgia.
“We saw the beacon of freedom that America promised, and we helped seize it.”
Bichotte Hermelyn, who represents the 42nd Assembly District in Brooklyn, said the designation of Haitian Heritage Month commemorates Haitian heritage and culture, including the French-speaking Caribbean country’s notable leaders, such as Jean Jacques Dessalines, who defeated Napoleon and the French colonists at the Battle of Vertières in 1803, and General Toussaint Louverture, who commanded his revolutionary army to victory.
Other Haitian leaders included female revolutionaries like Marie-Jeanne Lamartinière, who fought as a soldier in the Indigenous army, and Catherine Flon, a nurse, who is credited with crafting the independent Black Republic of Haiti flag in 1803.
Bichotte Hermelyn also alluded to Jean Baptiste Dusable, the first settler of Chicago, also known as the “Father of Chicago”; Jean-Michael Basquiat, one of the defining artists of the 20th century; Jackson Georges, a painter; and modern-day leaders like actor Jamie Hector and reporter Vladimir Duthiers.
“We saw the beacon of freedom that America promised, and we helped seize it,” Bichotte Hermelyn said.
Other Haitian holidays recognized by New York State include Haitian Flag Day and Haitian Unity Day, which are celebrated May 18th.