African Americans and the State of Haitian Studies

“African Americans and the State of Haitian Studies”

I would like to see more African American scholars writing more about Haiti’s national history & the Haitian Revolution. I believe their contribution will make a great impact–in terms of different perspectives, yet similar struggle, etc.) on the current state of Haitian Studies.

Beginning in the first half of the nineteenth century, African American writers and intellectuals were actively contributing to the field of Haitian studies; for example, James Theodore Holly

paved the way by publishing “Vindication of the Capacity of the Negro Race for Self-Governance and Civilized Progress” (1859); W. E. B. Du Bois discussed the significance of the Haitian Revolution in his Harvard doctoral dissertation, “The Suppression of the African Slave-Trade to the United States of America, 1638-1870 (1896) and also published a number of articles in The Crisis magazine during the American occupation in Haiti (1915-1934); James Weldon Johnson published “Self-Determining Haiti” and “The Truth about Haiti” (four articles in the 1920s); Zora Neale Hurston, “Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica” (1938);

Rayford Logan published one of the most important works on Haiti’s diplomacy history, “The Diplomatic Relations of the United States with Haiti, 1776-1891” (1941) and “Haiti and the Dominican Republic” (1968); Langston Hughes translated Jacques Roumain’s “Gouverneurs de la rosée” (1944) as “Masters of the Dew” (1948) in English; Mercer Cook, a friend of Dantes Bellegarde, published a number of seminal articles on Haitian literature and education; Carolyn Fowler published the first biography (1972) in English on Haiti’s most important Marxist and radical communist public intellectual Jacques Roumain; Brenda Gayle Plummer published “Haiti and the Great Power” (1988) and “Haiti and the United States” (2003); Katherine Dunham, “Island Possessed” (1994), etc. I can go on and on…

African American Studies scholars, activists, writers, anthropologists, intellectuals, historians, literary scholars, religious scholars, theologians, painters (Remember Jacob Lawrence’s majestic and stunning series of painting on Toussaint Louverture and the Haitian Revolution!): the Haitian people and Haitian Studies NEED you in such a time as this!

***Do check out Brandon Byrd’s excellent new book, “The Black Republic: African Americans and the Fate of Haiti” (2019) and of course, Gerald Horne’s important work, “Confronting Black Jacobins: The U.S., the Haitian Revolution, and the Origins of the Dominican Republic” (2015).

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