All photos taken by Haset Tesfaw.
At Malden High School, Haitian Flag Day is such an important day for not only the Haitian people, but everyone else too. “It’s celebrating the Haitian flag and the day that we celebrate the independence of the country. And it’s not only the independence of the country, what’s most important is the fact that it's the first black colony to become independent in the world. It’s a huge historical happening,” Ewald Charles, Brunelli House Principal, explained.
“When you’re a Haitian student and you look up and your flag is flying at the school you go to everyday, that’s an ultimate sign of acceptance and a sign that we honor, respect, and love you so much that this is how much of a part of the school you are,” Chris Mastrangelo, Malden High Principal, stated.
For Haitian Flag day this year, many students and faculty were able to go outside in front of the school during joy block. Many students, especially Haitians, were gathered outside waiting for the celebration to start.
To start, Leisha Fortunat, the president of the Haitian Club, gave a speech explaining that the Haitian flag represents independence and explained why this day was important, May 18th.
“The most important part of it is what the flag signifies, which is freedom for Black slaves. Black slaves were taken from everywhere in Africa and were being abducted and put on boats, and to say at that point ‘Hey you can be free,’ I think was extremely important which is why this day is important to me. I think it’s an important day not only for Haiti but for the world,” Charles continued.
This whole event was put together by the Haitian club who thought that all the students celebrating this event together at the school was important. “Last year when we did it, the Haitian club came to me and asked me if they could do it, and I approved it. Last year when we went out to do it, it was over pretty quickly so we started playing some music and we turned it into a big dance party on the street and it was so much fun. So this year when we decided we would actually have time for dancing with Haitian music and the Haitian heritage. So really they did all the planning, I just said ‘Yeah lets do it,’ and I let the people know,” Mastrangelo explained.
When the flag was raised everyone cheered and celebrated. When the music was turned on, everyone showed their happiness for this day by dancing together.
Olivia Descilien, a Haitian student who showed up to celebrate this day, explained why this day was important to her, “Haitian flag day celebrates the creation of the Haitian flag and with that symbolizes a lot, like independence and just pride in our culture. So with that, coming to the celebration of Haitian flag day was honestly very honoring for our culture and was a moment for me to truly embrace our culture all around. Like with the colors of our flag, which are red and blue with the palm trees in it with the green. So I wanted to be there just to show pride in our culture and obviously just so much praise and honor to be a Haitian person.”
“I feel like this day just means independence and freedom since the flag symbolizes the battle of our freedom, so that’s what that day means to me and so much more like strength, honor, and independence, and just so much that goes into it,” Descilien continued.
While everyone was dancing and celebrating, the music was paused so Mr. Charles could make a speech. His speech was in Haitian Creole, which is the language spoken by Haitian people, but he talked about his journey coming here from Haiti and it touched a lot of the students' hearts to hear a story like that, especially those students who may have gone through the same thing that he did.
Ewald Charles giving his speech.
“It felt right sharing my story coming here. The part that was sad about it was that I had to leave my country, not so much because I wanted to, just because of turmoil. So it was sad and I knew that a lot of the kids there are also in the same boat. And now I wish I could go back at least to visit and I’m not able to so it’s kind of tough. But it was more like to say ‘Hey, you can be fine, even though you are in a different place in the world, you can be fine, you can be successful, and you can manage,’” Charles explained.
Thalia Louigene, another Haitian student that attended this event, also agreed that this day was important to her. “A very important part of this day for me was I think just seeing everyone at the school going all out for our country and being proud of where they come from, because like Mr. Charles said, people used to make fun of people who come from Haiti, so it's definitely a huge shift from now, where our culture is a lot more appreciated and celebrated. And you know, it's always nice to be around your people, people who speak your language, and grew up in the same struggles as me,” Louigene stated. She also explained how she grew up in Haiti and how she was raised to be proud of where she came from and her past and how it is a very important thing for her.
(Left) A Haitian student who came with their flag on their back to support the Haitian Flag day. (Right) Students dancing while they proudly wear their Haitian flags on their backs.
“Haiti is the first free Black republic in the world, and in 1804 was when we won our independence, so this is definitely a big milestone and a very important day,” Louigene said.
The event ended with everyone dancing together, and smiles and good vibes were all around while everyone celebrated this important day for Haitians all around the world.