Haitians and African Americans
A Heritage of Tragedy and Hope

Leon D. Pamphile

Foreword by Richard Seckinger

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"In this well-documented and perceptively argued analysis, Leon D. Pamphile straightforwardly examines multifaceted aspects of the relations between African Americans and Haitians both at home and abroad and insightfully shows how these two subalternized groups have inscribed chunks of their histories inside the genealogies of each other’s life trajectories."--Michel S. Laguerre, University of California, Berkeley

In this first comprehensive study of the relations between Haiti and black America from the colonial period to the present, Leon Pamphile shows how historical ties between these two communities of the African diaspora have affected their respective histories, cultures, and community lives.
Spanning some 200 years of relations between Haiti and African Americans, Pamphile’s study is valuable for its thorough grounding in primary material, offering especially detailed treatments of 19th-century relations. He examines perceptions of Haiti in the United States during the debate over emancipation and slavery in the first half of that century and Haiti’s role as a model in the struggle for liberation and then an asylum for many escaping oppression in the United States.
His treatment of the decades from emancipation into the early 20th century, as descendants of African slaves struggled for legitimacy and respect in the post-slavery setting, is similarly meticulous. He highlights efforts to rehabilitate and elevate the black communities as well as dilemmas posed to African American leaders who defended Haitian independence during the U.S. occupation of 1915-34 and then sought to promote economic development on the island. He also treats relations between Haitian Americans and African Americans in major U.S. cities such as Baltimore, New Orleans, Charleston, and Philadelphia and traces the changing view of African American leaders toward Haiti during the Duvalier and post-Duvalier period as well as the role played by African American leaders in the U.S.-Haiti policy debate. His account covers individuals and events up to the period immediately following the multinational intervention of 1994.
Pamphile demonstrates that Haiti and the African American community, though separated by national cultures, remained linked by the common experience of slavery and its aftermath. His detailed accounts of these connections in the areas of politics, agriculture, performing arts, religion, and family organization will provide valuable insights to scholars working in Caribbean and American history and foreign policy and in race relations.

Leon D. Pamphile is the founder and executive director of the Functional Literacy Ministry, which provides reading materials and instruction in Haiti. He is the author of La Croix et le Glaive: L’Eglise Catholique sous l’Occupation Americaine, winner of the 1990 book prize from the Historical and Geographical Society of Haiti, and of Education en Haiti sous l’Occupation Americaine, 1915-1934.

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"a rich resource on Haiti, encompassing the major historical periods of early colonization, the struggle for independence and emancipation from slavery, the two Duvalier regimes, the United States Occupation from 1915 to 1934, the election of President Aristide, and the multinational intervention of 1994." "invaluable for study on Haitian and Caribbean history." - MultiCultural Review
--MultiCultural Review

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