A Haitian Slave Turned Emperor Brings Celebration and Controversy to Brooklyn

Stephania Casimir, a first-generation Haitian-American, remembers her parents talking about Jean-Jacques Dessalines, a former slave who became one of Haiti’s founding fathers, but not all of the details.

They came flooding back on Saturday on a street corner in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn as speakers explained why a stretch of Rogers Avenue was being co-named in honor of Dessalines, who declared Haiti’s independence after helping lead the revolt against France.

“This moment means so much to the Haitian community,” said Ms. Casimir, 26, a social worker. “It shows we are strong and powerful.”

As the paper bag covering the new street sign was removed by Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte, the crowd began singing the Haitian national anthem. Those gathered said the decision, along with the recent ceremonial City Council resolution that designated Flatbush Little Haiti, meant that Haitians’ contributions to New York will not be forgotten.


Read the full article here: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/18/nyregion/little-haiti-dessalines-boulevard.html