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Katherine Dunham with Louinès Louinis
Katherine Dunham with Louinès Louinis

Haitian Diaspora Oral Histories

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The Haitian Diaspora Oral History Digital Collection includes videos and outlines of oral history interviews conducted with individuals of Haitian ancestry that are well-renowned in the world of culture and the arts, education, community activism, civic leadership, and many professional organizations. In these interviews, musicians, artists, dancers, and writers explore the creative process, often through the lens of the diaspora experience, while showcasing the Haitian influence in the arts. Educators, activists and civic leaders share their experiences and their passion for supporting both their local community and the larger Haitian community.

Additional interviews from the Haitian Diaspora Oral History Collection are available for research upon request in the University of Miami Libraries Special Collections. A full description and list of all materials in this collection are available in the Haitian Diaspora Oral History Collection Finding Aid.

These oral histories express the views, memories and opinions of the interviewee. They do not represent the viewpoints of the University of Miami, its officers, agents, employees, or volunteers. The University of Miami makes no warranty as to the accuracy or completeness of any information contained in these interviews and expressly disclaims any liability therefor.

Copyright to these materials lies with the University of Miami. It may not be reproduced, retransmitted, published, distributed, or broadcast without the permission of the University of Miami Libraries Special Collections. For information about obtaining copies or to request permission to publish any part of an interview, please contact Special Collections at asc@miami.edu.

Below is information on the interviews that are currently available.

Monvelyno Alexis

Interview with Monvelyno Alexis, a Haitian musician in the sanba tradition based in Brooklyn, NY, who also paints using the Veve imagery of Vodou.

Yvon "Kapi" André

Interview with Yvon "Kapi" André, the drummer for Tabou Combo, a band that formed in Haiti in 1967 with roots in the konpa tradition and has performed around the world.

Marleine Bastien

Interview with Marleine Bastien, a human rights advocate who was a founding member of both the Haitian-American Grassroots Coalition and Fanm Ayisyen Nan Miyami, Inc., who also advocated for Haitian children detained at Guantanamo in the 1990s.

Gérard Campfort

Interview with Gérard Campfort, an educator, soccer enthusiast, musician, and author with doctorate in philosophy from the Sorbonne who worked as an outreach coordinator for the Haitian community with the Broward County Department of Health and the Broward County Public Library.

Adlore Casseus “Empress Addi”, and Patrick Dorce

Interview with Adlore Casseus “Empress Addi”, and Patrick Dorce of Rara Rock, a Haitian roots world beat band based in North Miami. Casseus is the singer and Dorce is the guitar player for the band, which performs in the rara style.

Edwidge Danticut

Interview with Edwidge Danticat, a Haitian-American author who writes about Haiti, immigration, and contrasting cultures, and whose book Krik? Krak! was a finalist for the National Book Award and became an Oprah Book Club selection.

Sandy Dorsainvil

Interview with Sandy Dorsainvil, a Haitian-American educator and community advocate who became the Executive Director of the Little Haiti Cultural Center in 2013, and who worked as a teacher and administrator for the Broward County School System.

Viktor El-Saieh

Interview with Viktor El-Saieh, a painter and grandson of Haitian bandleader Issa El-Saieh, who amassed a large private collection of Haitian art. The interview takes place in the El-Saieh Gallery in Port-au-Prince, which has hosted many well-known Haitian artists.

Viktor El-Saieh

Interview with Viktor El-Saieh, a painter and grandson of Haitian bandleader Issa El-Saieh, who amassed a large private collection of Haitian art. This interview takes place before the opening of Viktor's show, Historical Precedence, at the Tomm El-Saieh Gallery in Miami.

Michèle Jessica Fièvre

Interview with Michèle Jessica Fièvre, a South Florida writer and teacher who grew up in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and is involved in the Women Writers of Haitian Descent, Inc.

Paulette Saint Lot Frank

Interview with Paulette Saint Lot Frank, an opera singer and Haitian folk singer and dancer who served in the Haitian diplomatic corps and directed the first Haitian musical in New York, Lakou Lakai, in 1985.

Rosie Gordon-Wallace

Interview with Rosie Gordon-Wallace, the founder and curator of Diaspora Vibe Gallery and Diaspora Vibe Cultural Arts Incubator, which specialize in cultivating Caribbean and Latin American art with a focus on supporting emerging artists.

Jean-Phillipe Guillaume

Interview with Jean-Phillipe Guillaume, the creator and engineer of Mizikpam.com, an online Haitian music aggregator similar to Pandora, Last.Fm, and Spotify.

Maude Heurtelou and Fequière Vilsaint

Interview with Maude Heurtelou and Fequière Vilsaint of Educa Vision, Inc. (EVI), a publishing company that develops and publishes bilingual educational materials in Kreyòl, English, and French.

Joanne Hyppolite

Interview with Joanne Hyppolite, an award-winning children's author who is the Chief Curator at HistoryMiami, where she oversees the museum's exhibitions and collections department.

Laurette Jean

Interview with Laurette Jean, a dancer and choreographer who is actively involved in the Haitian cultural community and is the treasurer and a principal dancer with the Louinìs Louinis Haitian Dance Theatre.

Smith Jean-Baptiste

Interview with Smith Jean-Baptiste, the influential percussionist in the konpa band Les Shleu Shleu, which formed in Haiti in 1966, moved to New York in the 1970s, and is now based in South Florida.

Yves Joseph

Interview with Yves Joseph, manager and vocalist for Tabou Combo, a group that formed in Haiti in 1967 with roots in the konpa tradition and has performed around the world.

Erol Josué

Interview with Erol Josué, a Haitian musician, performer, healer, and houngan (Vodou priest) who has performed worldwide educating audiences about Haitian culture and dispelling myths about Vodou spirituality.

Sophia Lacroix

Interview with Sophia Lacroix, a Haitian-born painter based in South Florida who uses a hyperrealism style to create a vision of Haiti that conjures up images of her childhood with nostalgic portraits of everyday Haitians.

Matisou Légba

Interview with Matisou Matisou Légba, a master Haitian drummer who has been studying and playing the traditional Vodou rites and tempos for over 25 years. This interview is conducted in Kreyòl.

Louinès Louinis

Interview with Louinès Louinis, who was the principal dancer and choreographer of Troupe Folklorique National (Haiti's national theater) and who founded and directs the Louinès Louinis Haitian Dance Theater in Miami.

Liliane Nérette Louis

Interview with Liliane Nérette Louis, a storyteller, author, and cook with a strong interest in Haitian folk arts who has won the Florida Individual Artist Fellowship in Folk Arts and served as a Master Artist in the Florida Folklife Apprenticeship Program.

Lucrèce Louisdhon-Louinis

Interview with Lucrèce Louisdhon-Louinis, a professional storyteller, librarian, dancer, and executive director of the Louinès Louinis Haitian Dance Theatre who was instrumental in implementing the Art of Storytelling cultural exchange at the Miami-Dade Public Library.

Jan Mapou

Interview with Jan Mapou, owner of the Libreri Mapou bookstore in Little Haiti. He was one of the founders of the Kreyòl Movement in Haiti in 1965, and he founded Sosyete Koukouy, a multi-disciplinary arts company dedicated to preserving Haitian cultural traditions and rituals.

Louis Leslie Marcelin “Sanba Zao”

Interview with Louis Leslie Marcelin, an influential mizik racine (roots music) artist better known as “Sanba Zao” in the Haitian music community, who also runs the Bazilo École Communautaire with his wife Mireille in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Louis Leslie Marcelin "Sanba Zao"

Interview with Louis Leslie Marcelin, an influential mizik racine (roots music) artist better known as "Sanba Zao" in the Haitian music community. This interview is in Kreyòl and takes place at the school run by Marcelin and his wife in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Edeline Beauvais Mondestin

Interview with Edeline Beauvais Mondestin, an influential advocate for Haitian immigrant rights in South Florida who lobbied for the creation of the Haitian Senior Center in Little Haiti and for the passage of the Haitian Refugees Fairness Act.

Max Rameau

Interview with Max Rameau, the most publicly know activist with Take Back the Land who also leads the Center for Pan-African Development, and has worked extensively with Brothers of the Same Mind and Cop Watch.

Nancy St. Léger

Interview with Nancy St. Léger, an educator and cultural artist who has performed Haitian dance traditions and rhythms for over twenty years, and who serves as the Director of Folkloric Dance for Sosyete Koukouy in Miami and as the Director of the Haitian Arts and Culture for Children.

Markus Schwartz and Monvelyno Alexis of Vo-Duo and Louis Leslie Marcelin “Sanba Zao”

Interview with Markus Schwartz and Monvelyno Alexis of Vo-Duo and Louis Leslie Marcelin “Sanba Zao,” recorded during the 2012 Zakafest at the Little Haiti Cultural Center in Miami.

Maggie Steber

Interview with Maggie Steber, a documentary photographer whose work in Haiti won the Alicia Patterson Foundation Grant and the Ernest Haas Grant, culminating in her 1991 publication, Dancing on Fire: Photographs From Haiti.

Yolande Thomas

Interview with Yolande Thomas, a singer, performer, and community activist who was involved with founding Sosyete Koukouy in Miami and who served as an administrator at the Pierre Toussaint Haitian Catholic Center at the Notre Dame d'Haiti Catholic Church.

Lucie Tondreau

Interview with Lucie Tondreau, who has been active in supporting the Haitian community in New York and South Florida, and who was elected Mayor of the City of North Miami in 2013.

Marie Vickles

Interview with Marie Vickles, an artist with an interest in enhancing the lives of children through the arts who is the Visual Arts and Crafts Coordinator at the Little Haiti Cultural Center.

Frantz “Kiki” Wainwright

Interview with Frantz “Kiki” Wainwright, a playright, singer, actor, and dancer involved with Sosyete Koukouy, a group dedicated to preserving Haitian culture in the United States, who also helped form the band Ayabonmbe

Marie-Paule Woodson

Interview with Marie-Paule Woodson, a social advocate who is the Director of the Human Services Division of the Department of Community Action and Human Services for Miami-Dade County and who serves as the Chair of the Board for Fanm Ayisyen Nan Miyami, Inc. Miami-Dade County and who serves as the Chair of the Board for Fanm Ayisyen Nan Miyami, Inc.