Marie Woodson to host Haitian Independence Day in Hollywood for second consecutive year
Advocates plead for Joe Biden to re-up TPS for Haitians.

Last year’s event was a drive-thru affair. This time, celebrants are invited to party in person.

For the second consecutive year, Democratic Rep. Marie Woodson is leading a celebration of Haitian Independence Day in Broward County.

The free, public event is set to take place at the Boulevard Heights Community Center in Hollywood, complete with food, historical presentations, art, live music from DJ Nickymix and more from noon to 4 p.m. on Jan. 1.

Attendees can expect to learn about the history of Haiti, which declared independence from French colonial rule on Jan. 1, 1804, to become the first independent nation led by a Black majority in the post-colonial era and Latin America.

Accordingly, Haitian Independence Day is celebrated on New Year’s Day.

“Celebrating my culture and honoring that of others is essential and continues to be one of my favorite ways to remain connected with my community,” Woodson said in a statement.

Woodson, who won a second term in the Florida House with 69% of the vote last month, became the sole Haitian American representing Broward County in the chamber when she captured her seat two years before.

She also is the former Chair of the Miami-Dade County Commission for Women.

“I am privileged to live in South Florida, a melting pot where our diversity unites us,” she said.

The upcoming celebration follows years of turmoil and tragedy in Haiti, including numerous, high-magnitude earthquakes that left much of the island in rubble, deadly hurricanes that killed hundreds of people and the July 2021 assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse

Those and other crises — including an explosion of armed violence on the island by gangs blockading access to vital resources — drinking water, food and medicine — led United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk to declare in November that Haiti is experiencing its worst humanitarian situation in decades and call on neighboring nations to help.

“It is clear that the systematic violations of rights in Haiti do not currently allow for the safe, dignified and sustainable return of Haitians to the country,” he said. “Haiti is on the verge of an abyss … While urgently tackling violence is a priority, Haiti’s future and sustainable recovery requires urgent and sustainable action to tackle the root causes of this multifaceted crisis, and the government’s firm commitment to accountability and the rule of law.”

The dire situation in Haiti will no doubt make the celebration in Broward next month somewhat bittersweet.

“We are such a resilient people, and it’s not that we are just celebrating our culture and history. We’re asking people to try to understand us better and learn to better tolerate each other. This is an appeal to the (JoeBiden administration to convene with us and see how we can put our heads together to help the people of Haiti, where the schools aren’t open, kids cannot learn, it’s unsafe and no one can go over there and do anything at all,” Woodson told Florida Politics.

“I want my people to celebrate how resilient they are. People think that what’s going on over there is al that Haiti is about, but that’s not all there is. We have so many people from the Haitian diaspora contributing to the United States of America at all levels, whether it’s in the medical field, law or the school system. Let’s see Haiti as the force that it is and help to restore stability and security there.”

In addition to rejoicing in the island nation’s freedom from colonial rule for more than two centuries, Haitian American residents in Broward will also revel in being able to celebrate the special day more intimately than they could the year prior.

An aide from Woodson’s office told Florida Politics the inaugural event, held Jan. 1, 2022, at the Miramar Multi-Service Complex, was a drive-thru affair, with participants in cars collecting food and other goods before leaving to celebrate remotely due to COVID concerns.

That won’t be the case this time. Residents will be able to party alongside one another.

There is no entry fee; however, attendees must register to be admitted.

For more information and to register, visit the Eventbrite page.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


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