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Haitian Flag Raising 2023
May 18 @ 1:30 pm - 2:00 pm
The City of Jersey City, Mayor Steven Fulop, the Municipal Council Office and the Office of Cultural Affairs were proud to recognize the Haitians Unified for Development and Education (HUDE), Haiti Solidarity Network of the North East (HSNNE) and Haitian Evangelical Church of Jesus Christ as we celebrate the 220th Anniversary of Haiti’s Flag and Universities Day during their flag raising on Thursday, May 18, 2023. The American and Haitian Anthems were played one after the other.
Haitian Flag Day commemorates the creation of Haitian Flag and was adopted on May 18, 1803 on the last day of the Congress of Arcahaie. The congress was a meeting that had two key outcomes: the establishment of a united command of the revolutionary army under the supreme authority of Jean-Jacques Dessalines, and the adoption of a flag by the indigenous army. Jean-Jacques Dessalines created the flag by taking a French tricolour and ripping out the white centre. His goddaughter, Catherine Flon, sewed the remaining horizontal bands together – the tricolour became the bi-colour. The blue in the Haitian flag is said to represent the Haiti’s African residents and red represented those of mixed European and African descent – the Gens de Couleur (French for ‘people of colour’).
The coat of arms depicts a trophy of weapons atop a green hill and a royal palm symbolizing independence. The palm is topped by the Cap of Liberty. In addition to the colors and coat of arms on the flag changing throughout history, the motto on the flag changed several times as well. Other mottos have included “Unity Makes Strength”, “Our Unity Will be Our Strength”, and “Freedom or Death”. The latter motto was adopted from the French Revolution and was likely on the original French flag created by Dessalines. The motto L’Union fait la Force (“Unity Makes Strength”) appears on a white ribbon below the arrangement.
The flag has been changed several times over the intervening years. The bands became vertical in 1804. A red and black variation has also been in use more than once. The current flag was adopted on February 17,1986 after the departure of Jean-Claude Duvalier and was ratified a year later by the official adoption of the March 29, 1987 Constitution. The creation of the original flag was a seminal moment in Haiti’s nationhood and was soon being celebrated each year on May 18th. The government added Universities Day in 1919 as part of the celebrations. Highlighting the educational system was seen as important by the government as they saw the educational system was under threat due to the U.S. occupation of Haiti that started in 1915.
The City of Jersey City and the Haitian American community will proudly fly the flags of the United States and Haiti high above City Hall in recognition of the cherished cultural and ethnic diversity of our community. It is also a reaffirmation of the long friendship built on common values and an abiding love for freedom.