Skip to comments.Cruise into History for Haitiís 200th anniversary [3,100 Haitians to "tour" U.S. in 2004]
Posted on 03/15/2003 10:50:27 AM PST by LurkedLongEnough
In a cruise dubbed the fantastic voyage, Haitians will have a chance to turn their image as boat people upside down.
With the Cruising Into History Haiti 2004 Initiative, launched by the Haiti Support Project, Haiti will finally be honored for what organizers call its triumphant accomplishment of breaking the chains of slavery. On Aug. 14-21, 2004, an estimated 3,100 passengers will be transported to Haiti from Miami on a mega-ship as a part of the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the Haitian Revolution.
We want people to get on board, said Ron Daniels, founder and chairman of Haiti Support Project. This is an opportunity to share in a remarkable event. Well try to educate people as we build constituency to make sure Haiti gets its fair share.
Besides being educational, Daniels promises the seven-day voyage will be entertaining and the beginning of a dialog between Haitian civic groups and U.S. organizations to help propel Haiti into the 21st century. But the list of entertainment options is what will be the big draw.
Cruise participants can expect to be entertained by dance troupes from around the African Diaspora, a Pan-African film festival and a youth festival. Renowned leaders, scholars and activists will host educational forums. On land, cruise participants will visit the Citadel, have a two day stopover in Cap Haitian and spend one day in Jacmel and Port-Au-Prince, the capital. To add to the festivities, outdoor festivals will be held in each of the cities upon each visit.
The cruise is a catalyst for mobilizing education to build Haitis future, explains Daniels. Its a huge project creating excitement everywhere. But we must get 1,300 people on board to leverage the cruise line by June 1.
The Haiti Support Project, still in negotiations with the cruise line, has not set an actual price for passengers. However, most cabins will range from $1,500 to $2,500 per person, Daniels said.
The initiative came into fruition in 2001 at the State of the Black World Conference in Atlanta. It was then organizers agreed to support HSPs concept of an International Black Arts and Cultural Festival in Haiti for 2004.
Since then, many famous names have jumped on board to support the initiative. Most notable is Danny Glover, who has taken on the role of ambassador at large for the initiative, promising to recruit participants and stir interest in the media. Other supporters include Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Rev. Jesse Jackson, presidential hopeful Al Sharpton and Congressman John Conyers.
As planners continue to solidify the pilgrimage by attracting 1,300 cruise participants by the June 1 deadline, many in the Haitian community are abuzz with the news. Many believe the cruise will help buffer the constant onslaught of disinformation about Haiti that they believe has littered the airwaves, newspapers and the internet.
People will see with their own eyes what is really happening, said, 26-year-old DJ Jean, a resident of Oakland. What they show on TV about Haiti, its all bad. Hopefully they can see what we really need and they can bring back the right feedback over here.
Ayana Labossiere, 17, daughter of veteran Haitian activist Pierre Labossiere, also sees the cruise as potentially helpful in changing Americas outlook toward Haiti.
In the media, especially here in the U.S, we always just get one impression of Haitians: people crammed like sardines onto a boat trying to get over here, she said. Were constantly bombarded with negative views about Haiti. So to see these celebrities - these people who are actually promoting Haiti - actually promoting Haitis good qualities, I think thats really important.
Alina Sixto, a noted Haitian activist based in Connecticut who works to transport food and non perishable goods to Haiti, applauds Daniels and his teams tireless effort to making the initiative a reality.
They are pushing, to help the starving poor. We need that. We are all one, and, like Danny Glover says, Haitians opened the door for every black person all over the world.
Despite the overall positive feedback, Nadege Volcy, member of the Haiti Action Committee based in Oakland, foresees possible challenges in terms of attracting non-Haitians and Haitians to get on board with the initiative.
The challenge that I think they would have in terms of getting African Americans or people from the continent or people from the Americas is peoples perception of Haiti. Its unstable and theres a lot of poverty, so they might not be interested in going because they dont want to have to deal with the destitution that they might see, she explains.
Most Haitians oversees will most likely head to Haiti in time for the Independence Day observation on Jan. 1. Because of this, explained Volcy, Haitian participation might be limited for the set August date of the cruise.
In terms of logistics, I dont think the timing is great for Haitians but it will work for non-Haitians. Its not something that Haitians will participate in because were Haitians, we know our history, weve been to Jacmel, and weve been to Cap Haitian, noted Volcy. But I think its important for Haitians to go on the cruise because I think part of the experience is to have people interact with us and get our perspective.
While the cruise intends to help dispel myths about Haiti and foster economic opportunities for the impoverished nation, it is the acknowledgement of Haitis heroic and historic contribution to people in the African Diasporas global struggle for freedom that instills pride in the Haitian community and supporters of Haiti.
For people that are just black period, its something for them to be proud of just as much as I am proud of Nat Turner and Harriet Tubman. African Americans and someone from Nigeria, Brazil should be proud of (Haitian leaders) Toussaint, Dessaline, Marie Jeanne and Cécile Fatiman, said Volcy.
For more information and to sign up for the cruise, visit www.cruisingintohistory.org or contact the Haiti Support Project, PMB 2004, 850 Ives Dairy Road, T-57, North Miami Beach FL 33179, (877) 424-8404, firstname.lastname@example.org. Email Voleine at email@example.com.
Could we make this a one-way cruise?