Jubliant crowds rejoiced at Sunday’s Haitan Flag Day celebration at Erasmus High School. Local Flatbush residents were greeted by their elected leaders in a ceremony filled with enthusiastic celebration, but also more solemn moments of reflection and solidarity.
New York City Council Member Mathieu Eugene largely led the events. “This is truly a special occasion that is a tribute to the rich history and culture of the Haitian people,” he said.
The first-ever Haitian-born official in the State of New York, Eugene was dubbed “the Haitian Sensation” when he won two historic back-to-back special elections in 2007 to achieve his position.
Eugene was joined by New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. Viverito, the first Puerto Rican and Latina to hold a city-wide elected position, stressed the importance of minority groups working together towards common objectives.
A more somber moment involved the honoring of Gama Droiville, a 13-year-old Flatbush choirboy who was hit in the eye by a stray bullet a month ago and has since captured the attention of New Yorkers for his spirit and the forgiveness he has shown towards his assailant.
Borough President Adams, also in attendance, condemned the violence against the young boy. Adams has offered him a summer internship, to be paid for out of his pocket, in the hope that he could have a positive impact on young people across Brooklyn.
“Gama embodies hope and the best in the human condition, a true treasure of the Haitian community and our greater Brooklyn family,” said Adams.
Close to 90,000 residents of Haitian descent reside in Brooklyn, primarily in the neighborhoods of Flatbush, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, and Canarsie, making the borough the largest concentration of Haitian diaspora aside from the State of Florida.
A French-speaking island nation in the Caribbean, Haiti already had a tumultuous history when it suffered a devastating earthquake in 2010. The country remains in a fragile state of economic recovery.