Brooklyn Boro

Councilmember Eugene’s resolutions pass; Oct. 9 is officially Haitian Day

July 1, 2016 By John Alexander Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Mathieu Eugene (L), Inez Barron, Council Member, District 42 (R). Photos by Arthur De Gaeta

On June 21, the New York City Council unanimously passed Brooklyn Councilmember Mathieu Eugene’s resolutions calling on New York and the United States to recognize the contributions Haitians have made in America by establishing a Haitian Day.

Resolution 687 establishes Oct. 9 — which signifies the Battle of Savannah, when Haitian soldiers fought for freedom with the United States — annually as New York City Haitian Day, in recognition of the historic contributions of the Haitians to the city of New York.

Resolution 664 calls upon the United States Congress and the New York state Legislature to pass — and the president of the United States and governor of the state of New York to sign — legislation to establish Oct. 9 annually as Haitian Day in recognition of the historic contributions of Haitians to the United States of America.

“We are lucky to live in one of the most diverse places in the world,” said Eugene. “The character of New York has been shaped by so many different cultures, and since the beginning of American history, Haiti has helped shape this great nation. My resolutions illustrate how the contributions of Haitians have made an impact in New York City, as well as the United States.

“Haitians are architects, lawyers, doctors, authors, musicians and [are] involved in every vocation possible, and together, we have made tremendous contributions to American art, medicine, law, culture and most importantly, the history of the nation,” Eugene added.

Notably, Haitian soldiers helped the United States fight for its freedom at the Battle of Savannah in 1779; Chicago was founded by Jean Baptiste Point du Sable; and the Louisiana Purchase, which nearly doubled the amount of land owned by the United States, was only made possible because of the revolution in Haiti, led by Toussaint L’Ouverture. 

Haiti is a country that has always stood for freedom. In 1804, Haiti became the first black republic to abolish slavery. It has always been a place that promotes liberty and working with one another to accomplish a greater good for mankind. 

Eugene made history by becoming the first Haitian-born official elected to the New York City Council. He was also the first to win his seat overwhelmingly in two special elections just a few months apart, causing some to dub him “The Haitian Sensation.” 

Prior to the vote at the Stated Meeting, notable members of the Haitian community testified at the Cultural Affairs Committee hearing to share the impact of these resolutions, and how important it is to honor their Haitian ancestors who have made such monumental contributions.

After both hearings, Eugene hosted a reception at Brooklyn Borough Hall to commemorate the historic day. 

Peter Helder Bernard, the new Consul General of Haiti, was present for this historic resolution.  Also in attendance were Councilmembers Laurie Cumbo, Inez Barron and Brad Lander. 

“Haitians are a strong, courageous, determined and self-reliant people. This legislation will inspire my younger Haitian brothers and sisters to do their part for the betterment of society,” said Eugene.