WMU News

Spotlight is on Haiti during Black History Month

Feb. 11, 2004

KALAMAZOO--An exhibit and lecture exploring the island nation of Haiti will be presented during Black History Month as an offshoot of Western Michigan University's upcoming Francophone Film Festival.

The exhibit, "Another Look at Haiti 2004" runs Feb. 13-27 in the Black Arts & Cultural Center, 359 S. Burdick St., Room 202. The 30-panel exhibit comes to the area from the city Ugine in the French Alps, where it was displayed in January. Before that it was on display in the Haitian Embassy in Washington, D.C. The exhibit portrays Haiti's four main historical eras, from the Taino and Arawak peoples through the Spanish and French colonial periods, independence and modern day Haiti. The display was created by Haiti's Permanent Delegation to UNESCO and was first unveiled last year in France.

The exhibit will be enhanced by a lecture at the same location Wednesday, Feb. 18, by Haitian author Marie-Celie Agnant. The multi-talented Agnant was born in Port-au-Prince and has lived in Montreal since 1970. Fluent in French, Creole, English and Spanish, she has published two novels, as well as several books for young readers, a volume of poetry and a collection of short stories. Her presentation on Haiti's history and the exhibit itself is at 7 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

This is an opportune time to take a closer look at Haiti because the country is celebrating its bicentennial, says Dr. Vincent Desroshes, a WMU assistant professor of foreign languages and organizer of WMU's Francophone Film Festival.

"The Haitian revolution in 1804 was actually the first victory over slavery," Desroches says. "It was a hard-fought freedom when this small, black republic rose up and declared its independence from France. In black history, it was a very important moment."

Haiti and its bicentennial also are a component of this year's Francophone Film Festival. Now in its third year, the festival, March 10-14 on the WMU campus, will present six feature films in competition and two films from Haiti, "Profit and Nothing More" and "A Work in Progress: Human Rights in Haiti."

The exhibit, organized by the film festival and Black Arts & Cultural Center, is open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday with a special opening celebration 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 13. The show also is supported by the Kalamazoo Foundation, while Agnant's lecture is organized with the support of the Quebec government, Kalamazoo College and WMU.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, 269 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

WMU News
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
269 387-8400