Blog

Haitian Heritage Month rekindles Cultural Life in Little Haiti

Posted By Jonel Juste
May 14, 2021 at 1:31 PM

Woman modeling a traditional Haitian headdress.
Image courtesy Little Haiti Cultural Complex.

May is Haitian Heritage Month in the US, and one of the signs of this celebration this year is the reopening of Little Haiti Cultural Complex in Miami. Little by little, art and culture are coming back, people are coming back.

Last year this time around, everything shut down, cultural life was at stand still at Little Haiti. But now life is returning as activities timidly restart at Little Haiti Cultural Complex (LHCC) and the Caribbean Marketplace, both located at 212 NE 59th Terrace, Miami, Fl. Also has reopened the Haitian bookstore, Libreri Mapou, a landmark in the historic neighborhood, after one year of shutting down.

“People were calling me constantly asking when we would reopen,” reveals Sandy Dorsainvil, the manager of LHCC, “but we had to wait for the city of Miami to give us the green light.”

Finally, the city gave the green light, and to make it official, on May 1, the mayors Francis Suarez (Miami), Daniella Levine Cava (Miami-Dade County), and other elected officials came to the cultural complex to welcome back the community during the Haitian month kickoff ceremony. 

“The reopening took so long because Covid is real and many of our events put people at risk of catching the virus, so we had to make sure that if was safe for people to come back at Little Haiti Cultural Complex,” indicates Mrs. Dorsainvil. “Now that people are vaccinated, we feel it’s a good time to reopen while inviting our guests to observe the protective measures such as mask wearing and social distancing”. 

During the pandemic, the complex facility went through a lot of maintenance. “It was painted; we did a lot of work we wouldn’t be able to do otherwise. That’s one of the good things that happened to the facility during Covid,” says the cultural complex manager. The maintenance also extended to the website of LHCC that was revamped (www.miamigov.com/LHCC/Home).

Now it is reopening time, and for this May was chosen, a month that is generally described as a time of new beginnings.    

“It made sense to come back in May because of Haitian Heritage Month, that allows us to reopen in a very celebratory manner,” indicates Sandy Dorsainvil. The reopening events kicked off two weeks ago with the Haitian Heritage Month ceremony and the launch of Caribbean Market Days.

A plethora of events and activities feature on the programming of the Haitian month such as live music, comedy shows, a book fair, cook offs, art exhibitions, fitness exercises, Haitian creole classes, and of course the Haitian Flag Day celebration on May 18. 

Practically, there will be an event every Saturday at LHCC and the Caribbean Marketplace until the end of the month. There will be events on the other days of the week as well. 

Part of the programming is onsite, and part is virtual. “The reason is there’s still a large segment of the community that doesn’t feel comfortable going out, so we offer virtual events that allow them to participate from a distance,” explains Mrs. Dorsainvil, adding that, “So far, we have a good number of people coming, and we have a large social media attendance.”

Return to normalcy!

For this reopening, the manager of the Little Haiti Cultural Complex hopes for a return to normalcy. “We’ve been close for a year, so right now we are trying to reestablish some of the traditional things we had.” Some pre-pandemic activities will come back, others are on hold or will require funding to continue. 

“Art camp will come back for the summer, so is Marketplace. The dance companies will restart their rehearsals. The indoor spaces like the theater and the art gallery will open to the public June 1,” announces the complex manager. 

The Caribbean Marketplace has reopened now every Saturday for the summer with “Caribbean Market Days”. Upon entering the gingerbread-style building, the visitor is welcomed by live music, Haitian art, crafts, food and fashion.

Part of the Caribbean Market Days is the outdoor fitness program “Souke Kò w: Little Haiti Gets Fit.” “The goal is to help people get back in shape and be healthy, getting some exercises on Saturday mornings. It will last from now till the summer. We are trying to make it permanent if funding is available”.

Among the pre-pandemic events coming back is Sounds of Little Haiti. For its first concert for the year 2021, SOLH will present on May 21 a performance by the Haitian band Nu Look. Participants are invited to register in advance in order to control the crowd.

Laughter is part of the programming too. There will be a comedy show called Big Laugh in Little Haiti that will take place on May 28 in Little Haiti with local comedian Success Junior and his crew. 

The celebration of Haitian Heritage Month is an expansion of the Haitian Flag Day, which is on May 18, a major patriotic day celebration in Haiti. Miami-Dade County has been celebrating this tradition for more than 15 years. Usually, tourists from all over the globe have traditionally traveled to Miami to celebrate.

Lots of activities and events mark this month that will be celebrated not only at Little Haiti Cultural Center but in various locations in Miami-Dade County. Here’s the rest of the program:

Souke Ko Ou: Little Haiti Gets Fit
Little Haiti Cultural Center
212 NE 59th Terrace, Miami, FL 33137
Saturdays, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Little Haiti Book Festival Online
Miami Book Fair
Sundays, 11 a.m.
Panel discussions, storytelling and music with prominent Haitian leaders on various topics relevant to the community. Visit MiamiBookFairOnline.com for details.

Haitian Flag Day Celebration
Little Haiti Cultural Center Courtyard/Virtual
212 NE 59th Terrace, Miami, FL 33137
Tuesday, May 18, 11a.m. – 1 p.m.

North Beach Social – Gabel Presented by The Rhythm Foundation
7275 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, FL 33141
Thursday, May 20, 7 p.m.

Sounds of Little Haiti 7th Anniversary
(art, food, live music)
Little Haiti Cultural Center Courtyard
212 NE 59th Terrace, Miami, FL 33137
Friday, May 21, 7 p.m. – midnight

Creole Culinary Classic with Chef Niema
Little Haiti Cultural Center
212 NE 59th Terrace, Miami, FL 33137
Saturday, May 22, 11:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Little Haiti’s 7th Birthday Party – Children’s Day
Little Haiti Cultural Center Courtyard
212 NE 59th Terrace, Miami, FL 33137
Wednesday, May 26, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Virtual Dance Workshop
Centre de Danse Jean René Delsoin
Friday, May 28 at 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
For a virtual traditional Haitian dance workshop, visit Miamigov.com/LHCC/Home.

Big Laughs in Little Haiti
Little Haiti Cultural Center Courtyard
212 NE 59th Terrace, Miami, FL 33137
Friday, May 28, 7 p.m. – 11 p.m.

MOCA Museum (North Miami)
May 1-June 27: “After the Rain Comes Light: Portraits of Resilience,” by artists Morel Doucet and Stephen Arboite
Wed., May 19; 7:00 p.m.: Conversation at MOCA: Morel Doucet and Stephen Arboite
Available starting May 27: Life and Spirituality in Haitian Art Catalogue
Dates vary: Educational Programs
Location: 770 NE 125th St., North Miami, FL 33161

 

ArtburstMiami.com is a nonprofit source of theater, dance, visual arts, music and performing arts news. Sign up for our newsletter and never miss a story.

 

latest posts

Arts leaders divulge tips to attracting diverse cultura...

Posted By Josie Gulliksen,

MAMP LAB 5 speakers on adding diversity to programming. At the recent Miami Arts Marketing Project Lab 5, hosted by the Arts & Business Council of Miami, a stellar gathering of arts leaders spent the morning sharing expert tips with marketing professionals on how to attract diverse cultural audiences to their shows and events. Gathered virtually via Zoom, the expert

Carnegie Hall’s NYO and NYO2 Programs Offer Opportuniti...

Posted By Sean Erwin,

The goal was simple – bring talented young people who share a passion for music from all across the country into a community of peers. 

El regreso de Joel Cano a la escena de Miami con “Falle...

Posted By Jorge Herrera-Monroy,

Una sobria puesta en escena, dirigida por Larry Villanueva.