Florida Senate - 2016                                     SM 600
       By Senator Thompson
       12-00754-16                                            2016600__
    1                           Senate Memorial                         
    2         A memorial to the Congress of the United States,
    3         urging Congress to annually recognize January 1 as
    4         “Haitian Independence Day,” May 18 as “Haitian Flag
    5         Day,” and the month of May as “Haitian Heritage
    6         Month.”
    8         WHEREAS, the Republic of Haiti, an island nation located in
    9  the West Indies on the western third of the Island of
   10  Hispaniola, declared its independence from French colonial rule
   11  on January 1, 1804, following a slave revolt under the
   12  leadership of Generals Toussaint L’Ouverture, Jean-Jacques
   13  Dessalines, and Alexandre Pétion, becoming the first and only
   14  state created from a successful slave rebellion, and
   15         WHEREAS, Haiti was the first independent nation in Latin
   16  America and the first post-colonial independent nation led by
   17  blacks in the world, and
   18         WHEREAS, Haitian Independence Day is globally acknowledged
   19  and annually celebrated on January 1 as an affirmation of
   20  equality, freedom, and the abolition of slavery, and
   21         WHEREAS, the Haitian flag known today, a variant of which
   22  first came into use in 1806, is emblazoned with the country’s
   23  coat of arms and the colors red and blue, adopted from the flag
   24  of France, the country from which Haiti gained its independence,
   25  and
   26         WHEREAS, General Jean-Jacques Dessalines is regarded as the
   27  father of the Haitian flag, known to have dramatically cut the
   28  French tricolor with his saber at the May 1803 Arcahaie
   29  conference, ripping away the white of the French flag to
   30  symbolize an end to European influence and leaving two strips
   31  that Catherine Flon then sewed back together: the blue, which
   32  represented the former African slaves brought to Haiti by
   33  colonial powers, and the red, which symbolized a people of mixed
   34  ancestry, and
   35         WHEREAS, the Haitian flag is a definitive symbol of pride
   36  for the Caribbean nation, having become the second republic,
   37  after the United States, to defeat a European colonial power in
   38  the Americas, and
   39         WHEREAS, Haitian Flag Day events are annually observed and
   40  celebrated with pride and enthusiasm throughout the United
   41  States, and
   42         WHEREAS, Haitian Heritage Month is a jubilant celebration
   43  in the United States, embracing Haitian heritage and culture,
   44  and
   45         WHEREAS, first celebrated in Boston, Massachusetts, in
   46  1998, Haitian Heritage Month is observed nationwide in the month
   47  of May from Florida to New York with parades, festivals, and
   48  school activities, and
   49         WHEREAS, the importance of Haitian Heritage Month is
   50  exemplified by South Florida Congressman Kendrick B. Meek’s
   51  introduction of a bill in the United States House of
   52  Representatives in 2004 and 2006 to recognize the month of May
   53  as Haitian Heritage Month, by former President George W. Bush
   54  and First Lady Laura Bush’s letter, sent in May 2005, to
   55  congratulate the Haitian-American community on the occasion of
   56  the heritage month, and by the organization of a celebration at
   57  the White House that same year, and
   58         WHEREAS, as educators, authors, community leaders,
   59  activists, athletes, artists, musicians, and politicians,
   60  Haitians and Haitian Americans have left an indelible mark on
   61  every facet of this nation’s society and the world, evidenced by
   62  the accomplishments of such icons as Jean Baptiste Point du
   63  Sable, founder of the City of Chicago; civil rights activist
   64  W.E.B. Du Bois; National Football League player Pierre Garҫon;
   65  author and candidate for the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2009,
   66  Frankétienne; and Tony Award-winning actress and singer Nikki M.
   67  James, and
   68         WHEREAS, the close proximity of Haitian and American
   69  shores, in conjunction with our countries’ common bond of mutual
   70  values and commitment to democracy, ensures lasting comity of
   71  nations and continued trade and diplomatic relations, and
   72         WHEREAS, with an estimated 1.5 million persons of Haitian
   73  descent now residing in the United States, it is important to
   74  acknowledge the positive impact of Haitian Americans in their
   75  contribution to the betterment and diversity of this country,
   76  and
   77         WHEREAS, the United States and Haiti share a history of
   78  freedom, a common belief in human rights, and diverse, complex,
   79  and resilient peoples who have impacted the world through
   80  vibrant cultures, democracy, and a wealth of talent and
   81  achievement, and
   82         WHEREAS, Haitian Independence Day, Haitian Flag Day, and
   83  Haitian Heritage Month are each observed to salute the Haitian
   84  and Haitian-American communities and to exhibit appreciation for
   85  their culture and heritage, which have immeasurably enriched the
   86  lives of the people of this nation, NOW, THEREFORE,
   88  Be It Resolved by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   90         That the Congress of the United States is urged to
   91  recognize January 1 of each year as “Haitian Independence Day,”
   92  May 18 of each year as “Haitian Flag Day,” and the month of May
   93  of each year as “Haitian Heritage Month” and to encourage the
   94  people of the United States to observe these occasions with
   95  appropriate ceremonies, celebrations, and activities.
   96         BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that copies of this memorial be
   97  dispatched to the President of the United States, to the
   98  President of the United States Senate, to the Speaker of the
   99  House of Representatives, and to each member of the Florida
  100  delegation to the United States Congress.