Message from State of Pennsylvania

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City of Pittsburgh - Dec 2003:

City of Pittsburgh Council Proclamation

Whereas, on January 1, 1804, Jean-Jacques Dessalines solemnly proclaimed the independence of the world's first Black republic and the second independent nation of the Americas;

Whereas, two hundred years ago, an ill-equipped army of formerly enslaved Africans under the brilliant leadership of Toussaint Louverture faced the mighty expeditionary force of Napoleon Bonaparte under the command of his own brother-in-law, General Charles Leclerc, and in a final showdown the Haitians soundly defeated these forces of slavery and colonialism;

Whereas Haiti has maintained its independence against overwhelming odds including ostracism and blockade by the United States, France and other European powers and being twice invaded and occupied by American forces;

Whereas the African American community of Pittsburgh has almost two centuries of connection with Haiti given that Pittsburgh's oldest Black neighborhood in the Hill District was called "Little Haiti" in the early nineteenth century;

Whereas Pittsburgh has many churches, medical groups and organizations with close ties and enduring involvement in Haiti who are uniting in solidarity to celebrate Haiti's bi-centennial year of 2004;

Whereas Haitians and Friends of Haiti in the Pittsburgh community would like to pause and acknowledge these two hundred years of national independence and the fierce light of freedom burning in the hearts of the Haitian people that defeated slavery and has resisted exploitation to this day;

And whereas this bi-centennial celebration can be an opportunity for schools, cultural institutions, and other organizations to highlight Haitian culture and history during the bi-centennial year of 2004 enabling people to learn more about the relations between the United States and Haiti as the first two independent nations of the Western Hemisphere;

Be it therefore resolved that the City Council of Pittsburgh proclaims January 1, 2004 "Haitian Independence Day", the month of January "Haitian Independence Commemoration Month", and 2004 as "Haitian Bicentennial Year" in Pittsburgh.

Draft: Charles McCollester