Category Archives: Technical Stuff

The Asbury Park July 1970 Riots

The John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture recently acquired the Joseph F. Mattice Papers. Mattice was a native of Asbury Park who served as a lawyer, city council member, and district court judge prior to being elected mayor of Asbury Park, New Jersey in 1969. Mattice was mayor during the Asbury Park July 1970 riots and the collection contains a bevy of material related to the riots including letters from concerned citizens, business people, news clippings, and hate speech.

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One of the many examples of Hate Speech Mattice received in response of the riots, rather than trying to determine the cause of the riots and work towards a peaceful resolution, many blamed the rioters and wanted them silenced.

So how did Asbury Park become ground zero for riots from July 4th, 1970 to July 10th, 1970? This story began way before 1970. The first wave of the Great Migration brought African Americans from the South to Asbury Park for better opportunities. Historically, Asbury Park was a resort town that recruited African Americans to work in the resort industry.

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Associated Press article about the history of Asbury Park

At the time of the riots, Asbury Park was a town of 17,000, 30% of which were African-American. The town’s population increased to 80,000 with summer vacationers. The Great Depression, followed by World War II, caused the resort industry in Asbury Park to change dramatically to keep up with the times.  The fancy resort stays gave way to weekend vacationers. The community maintained a steady resort community, but jobs at the resorts were frequently outsourced to white youth in the surrounding areas instead of local African American youth, which caused frustration in the community.

On the evening of Saturday July 4, 1970 all of the tension due to the lack of jobs, recreational opportunities, and decent living conditions came to a head.

  • By Monday July 6th, Mayor Mattice ordered a curfew. Surrounding local police as well as New Jersey state police were summoned and brought in via trucks by the National Guard.
  • Tuesday July 7, 1970: African American community representatives presented a list of twenty demands to city officials including better housing conditions as many were infested with rats.
  • Wednesday July 8, 1970: City officials, representatives of New Jersey Governor Cahill, and the African American community met in a closed conference. Governor Cahill completed a brief tour via vehicle then requested President Nixon to declare the city a major disaster area after the disorders (as the riots were called) were over.
  • Friday July 10, 1970: marked the last day of rioting. The state troopers were removed from the West Side but remained on patrol of other sections of the city. Mattice and city council had a productive meeting with West Side residents to discuss demands.

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In the end, over 180 people, including 15 state troopers were injured, and the shopping district of the west side neighborhood of Asbury Park was destroyed. Police made 167 arrests. Many West side residents were displaced from their homes, and the neighborhood was still in disarray five years after the riots. There was an estimated $4,000,000 in damage, and an additional $1,600,000 spent on cleanup costs.

The riots brought national attention to Asbury Park, New Jersey. However, Asbury Park was just one of many cities across the United States that experienced riots within the late 60s- early 70s period. The same issues: lack of job opportunities and unfit housing were prevalent for many African Americans.  The riots forced America to look at the inequalities, acknowledge them and work towards making things better.

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Letter from a concerned citizen from Toledo, Ohio

The Joseph F. Mattice papers give an insider view into the riots and this period in general.   The collection is a vital research tool that allows the reader to make their own interpretation of this historical event.

Post contributed by Charmaine Bonner, SNCC Collections Intern. 

From far away: The Lucy Monroe Calhoun Family Photographs of China

I wanted to showcase some of my favorite photographs from the Lucy Monroe Calhoun family photographs and papers, a collection we are currently processing. Lucy Monroe Calhoun was born in 1865; she was the sister of poet and editor Harriet (Stone) Monroe. She became a freelance art critic for Chicago and national newspapers, and served as an editorial reader for the Herbert S. Stone publishing company.

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Lucy Monroe Calhoun and her husband, William J. Calhoun, in front of the American Legation residence in Beijing.

In 1904, she married William James Calhoun, known as “Cal,” who was appointed ambassador to China by President Taft. They reached Beijing in 1910, and look particularly regal in this 1911 photograph.

In her memoir (contained in the collection), Lucy detailed all the political upheaval of the period. In addition, she outlined all the various activities and entertainments that accompany the work of an ambassador, among them dinner parties, plays, music and musicals, tiffin (a light, midday meal), and excursions. Whenever possible, Lucy toted her camera along to take photographs. One of the groups she, Cal, and their niece, Polly, joined was the “Purple Cows,” a foreign legation dinner club whose members dressed in purple and met once a week to discuss a current reading.

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The members of the “Purple Cows.” Why “cows?”

The couple left Beijing at the end of Cal’s term in 1913. They returned to Chicago. After Cal suffered a stroke and died in 1916, Lucy had difficulty establishing a home, for various reasons. For a period she even worked for the Red Cross in France. So when friends asked her to accompany them on a trip to Japan and China, she joyfully accepted and returned to Beijing in 1921.  She stayed until 1937, establishing her home in a former temple that had been built in 1789, using the ample space there for entertaining. She became the unofficial “First Lady” of the diplomatic corps. She even wrote about her house in her memoir: “Here we came to be at home; though it seemed far north at first and was called “Outer Mongolia,” friends of many nationalities found the way to our doors…. Wars and revolutions have raged around it, foreign planes have zoomed overhead, but my shaded courts are tranquil and I live in peace.” She took many photographs of her expansive living quarters, and the pieces of Chinese furniture she used for decoration.

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The living room of Lucy’s house in a former temple. High ceilings with three main sitting areas.
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The Calhouns’ Beijing home from another angle.

So now for two photographs I found interesting. The first is a photograph of Tien an men Gate, which I didn’t recognize as something familiar until someone mentioned Tiananmen…. <<click!>>.

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Familiar, yet not like this: Tien An Men gate.

The second is perhaps my favorite photograph; I find its arrangement attractive. It was taken during a funeral procession, and features paper figures as effigies that will be burned following the funeral.

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Paper effigies to be burned following the funeral procession.

 

The photographs in this collection feature scenes inside and outside Beijing, in addition to Lucy’s residences there. They complement our holdings of Chinese photographs from the early twentieth century, including the Sidney D. Gamble Photographs and the William Hillman Shockley Photographs, which will soon be digitized.

Post contributed by Alice Poffinberger, Original cataloger and archivist.

“Daisy, Daisy…”

Spring, and a woman’s thoughts turn to…bicycles? Apart from sudden showers and the onslaught of inchworms and allergens, spring is perhaps the finest season to ride. Trees are filling out, flowers are a’bloom and the birds are a’tweet: in short the whole planet has its hormones on fine display. What’s a girl not to like—especially on a bicycle built for her, equal in every way to a man’s?

1900 Columbia bicycle from Baden
Ad from the Gary and Sandra Baden Collection of Print Advertisements

This 1900 ad for Columbia’s chainless bicycle makes the progressive argument that women are entitled to the same quality bike as a man. The copy goes on to show how the bike’s frame accommodates the latest in women’s biking fashions, and how the chainless design facilitates mounting and dismounting while eliminating the possibility of one’s skirt getting caught in a chain—or soiled by it, a concern that persists among our current-day urbanites rolling along with the right pant-leg rolled-up out of harm’s way. Actually, this basic frame design is still with us, in unisex “Dutch” and townie bike styles like the Breezers that Zagster provides for rent. Not only that, but the “bevel gear” drive system was the precursor to today’s eclectic shaft-driven bicycles (still trumpeted as “innovative.” Hah!). All in all, the Columbia was a triumph of engineering in its day, especially with the available option of a coaster brake, which is also still in use in kids’ bikes and beach cruisers.

Columbia additionally had the marketing vision to realize that the bike and rider formed a single ensemble, where the lines of the frame “Contribute to the Graceful Appearance of the Rider…”  That came at a price, though. $75 in 1900 roughly equates to around $2000 today, which would put a modern woman in the market for a top-of-the-line bike from today’s major manufacturers. On the other hand, grace is priceless, and the freedom and autonomy provided by the bicycle was likely well worth the investment. In fact, the bicycle has occasionally been praised as an instrument of liberation, and early feminists such as Susan B. Anthony were also advocates for cycling, as much for gender-political as for its health benefits. Liberate the body and the mind will follow!

Post contributed by Rick Collier, Hartman Center

Cherokee Phoenix rises to the top of cataloger’s consciousness

One of the things they don’t tell you in library school is that your personal and professional readings will occasionally overlap—something I’ve found to be especially true as I’ve worked to complete a long gestating newspaper project at the Rubenstein. When I serendipitously encounter primary sources in my readings, I’m forced to ask myself (and occasionally regret asking myself): Does the Rubenstein hold this? In the case of The Cherokee Phoenix, a newspaper written by the Cherokee Nation, the answer turns out to be a resounding yes, and one that I’m glad I pursued.

“We, the representatives of the people of the Cherokee Nation in Convention assembled, in order to establish justice, ensure tranquility, promote our common welfare, and secure to ourselves and our posterity the blessings of liberty”—The Constitution of the Cherokee Nation, created in 1827 and published in the first issue of the Cherokee Phoenix.

In the 19th Century, the Cherokee were under attack. Voluntary removals were increasingly involuntary, forcing the Cherokee farther and farther from their homes in the southeast United States. Treaties ostensibly designed to protect the Nation’s lands went unenforced by the state and federal governments (Zinn, 2015, p.143-148) (Brannon, 2005, p.14). And in 1830, Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act into law, thereby granting the federal government power to forcibly migrate Native Americans into lands beyond Mississippi (Primary documents in American history). The Cherokee were subsequently “rounded up and crowded into stockades” in October 1838 and made to march (Zinn, 2015, p.148). Today we recognize this as the start of the Trail of Tears, a cataclysmic event resulting in the deaths of some 4,000 Cherokees (Primary documents in American history).

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The Rubenstein’s copy of the front page of Vol. I: No. 1 of Cherokee Phoenix.

The  Cherokee Phoenix, a newspaper first published by Isaac H. Harris on February 21, 1828, navigates this sliver of time in the history of the Cherokee Nation, a time in which it fought to maintain its lands, protect its people, and keep its ways of life. In the first issue, the editor, Elias Boudinot, juxtaposes the opening salvos of the recently written (1827!) Constitution of the Cherokee Nation with a letter written by Thomas L. McKinney to the Secretary of War about the Cherokee people. A public notice underlining the difficulties in creating the paper and a column critical of the Federal government can also be found. The Cherokee Phoenix thus proves to be a remarkable historical document, made all the more remarkable by the fact it’s written in both English and Cherokee—a language that did not have a written component until 1821 (Brannon, 2005, p. x).

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The Cherokee syllabary was created by Sequoyah, a silversmith and trader by profession, who felt that written language could be harnessed and used to the Cherokee’s advantage. In his initial attempts, Sequoyah tried to create a “symbol for each word in the language,” but that soon proved insufficient, and he turned his attention to the sounds of the language, paying particular attention to the syllables (Sequoyah and the Cherokee Syllabary). Eventually, he was able to isolate 85 syllables and devise associated symbols that could be combined to create a written component of the Cherokee language. The first to learn how to read and write using this syllabary was Sequoyah’s daughter, A-Yo-Ka. Incredibly, in eleven years, Sequoyah’s efforts proved successful: he developed an entirely new means of communication for his Nation. By 1825, there were Cherokee translations of hymns and the Bible, and thousands of Cherokee were literate (Sequoyah’s syllabary) (Sequoyah and the Cherokee Syllabary).

Three years later, the Cherokee nation purchased its own press and began publishing the Cherokee Phoenix in New Echota Georgia, the capital of the Cherokee Nation. The type was cast by Reverend Samuel Worcester, a missionary, postmaster, and now printer (Samuel Worcester). Forty-seven issues were published under its original name. And now, almost 200 years later, the Cherokee Phoenix name is still in use: The Cherokee Nation publishes both online and print editions of the newspaper, with a subscription base of 40,000 readers (Cherokee Phoenix celebrates 184 years).

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The Cherokee Phoenix has been digitized and is available through The Georgia Historic Newspapers project.

Sources:

Brannon, F. (2005). Cherokee phoenix, advent of a newspaper: The print shop of the Cherokee Nation 1828-1834, with a chronology. Tuscaloosa, Ala.: SpeakEasy Press.

Cherokee Phoenix celebrates 184 years. (2012, February 21). Cherokee Phoenix. Retrieved May 3, 2016, from http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/

Primary Documents in American History. (n.d.). Retrieved May 03, 2016, from https://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/ourdocs/Indian.html

Samuel Worcester. (n.d.). Retrieved May 03, 2016, from http://www.cherokee.org/AboutTheNation/History/Biographies/SamuelWorcester.aspx

Sequoyah and the Cherokee Syllabary. (n.d.). Retrieved May 03, 2016, from http://www.cherokee.org/AboutTheNation/History/Facts/SequoyahandtheCherokeeSyllabary.aspx

Sequoyah Museum: Sequoyah’s Syllabary. (n.d.). Retrieved May 03, 2016, from http://www.sequoyahmuseum.org/index.cfm/m/6

Zinn, H. (2015). A People’s History of the United States (Reissue ed.). New York, NY: Harper Perennial Modern Classics.

Post contributed by Liz Adams, Special Collections Cataloger.

Adding to our collection of Movable Books

With constant access to moving images via your cell phone, laptop, or tablet, I expect it is difficult to imagine when even simple movement in a book was revolutionary. But just image the impact of being able to manipulate part of a page in a book in the 18th century!

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It is difficult to know less about an author!

The Rubenstein’s History of Medicine Collection features many early movable books, which were usually intended for scholars. These were generally the “turn-up” style, often used by students of anatomy, where separate leaves, each featuring a different section of the body, were hinged together and attached to a page. One of the best examples, De humani corporis fabrica librorum epitome was printed by Andreas Vesalius in 1543.

It wasn’t until the late 1700s that movable books intended for entertainment were produced, usually for children. In 1765, Robert Sayer created a movable book that involved lifting a flap. Ann Montanaro explains the construction of these books in her “A Concise History of Pop-up and Movable Books:”

[the] books were composed of single, printed sheets folded perpendicularly into four. Hinged at the top and bottom of each fold, the picture was cut through horizontally across the center to make two flaps that could be opened up or down. When raised, the pages disclosed another hidden picture underneath, each having a few lines of verse.

These books quickly became popular and had different names based on their content or composition of illustrations, including “metamorphoses,” “harlequinades,” as well as the unfortunately-named “toilet books.”

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My favorite page features a lion that transforms into a griffin, that transforms into an eagle.

As part of the Lisa Unger Baskin Collection, we recently received one of these metamorphoses books, handmade by Elizabeth Winspear in 1799. Unfortunately, that is the limit of all we know about her. The book features just four pages in full color with accompanying verse, each page with two flaps that reveal a new drawing underneath, in stages. The verses include instructions for how to move the flaps. One reads: The Lion Roaring from his Den / with porpose [sic] for to rainge [sic] / He’s turn’d into another shape / Turn down & see the sight so strange

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The Lion Roaring from his Den / with porpose [sic] for to rainge [sic] / He’s turn’d into another shape / Turn down & see the sight so strange
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Each fold of the page must be carefully calculated.

I don’t want to give everything away! There is immense entertainment value to this little item. Initially we are introduced to Adam, whose Eve is not what one has come to expect. However, it is clear that Winspear also intended some instruction or moral training to occur by reading this book, for all does not end well, despite a character’s obtaining gold and silver. The piece ends as a cautionary tale.

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The eagle holds its prey, an unfortunate infant, in its grasp.

Stop by and see this new gem in our collection!

Contributed by Alice Poffinberger, Original cataloger and archivist.

Duvalierism, With and Without Duvalier: Radio Haiti Commemorates the Massacres of April 26, 1963 and 1986

On April 26, 1963, François Duvalier ordered his forces – the army and the Tontons Macoutes – to wreak unprecedented violence throughout the city of Port-au-Prince.   It was the perhaps the single moment in which the encompassing brutality of Duvalierist repression was realized in full.

On April 26, 1986, two and a half short months after the fall of Jean-Claude Duvalier, eight civilians were gunned down by the army at a commemoration of the violence that had taken place twenty-three years before.  It was one of the first of many events that proved that Duvalierism and Macoutism would outlive the Duvalier regime.

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The morning of April 26, 1963, the presidential car bringing François Duvalier’s children Jean-Claude and Simone to school was attacked by four armed men; the Duvalier children’s chauffeur and two bodyguards were killed.  Duvalier père responded by issuing a call to arms on the national radio, commanding and authorizing the Macoutes and other Duvalier partisans to hunt down and kill the perpetrators, or ostensible perpetrators, of the attempted kidnapping.

François Duvalier believed that a group of military officers were plotting against him, in particular Lieutenant François Benoît, whom Duvalier accused of having masterminded the kidnapping attempt.  (It was later discovered that the attack had been engineered by Clément Barbot, the former chief of the Tontons Macoutes who had once been one of Papa Doc’s closest confidants.)  That day, Duvalierist forces hunted down and tried to exterminate the entire Benoît and Edeline families (the family of François Benoît’s wife).  The Benoît home was burned down, and Lieutenant Benoît’s mother, father, toddler son, the baby’s nanny and another household worker were killed.  At least seventy-four people were killed or disappeared that day.  Many were military officers; many others were relatives of military officers (including small children), household workers employed by targeted families, or people who were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.  An elderly lawyer named Benoît Armand was murdered merely because his first name was Benoît.  Since Duvalier had his supporters given carte blanche to carry out these killings, the rampage was both opportunistic and indiscriminate.

That arbitrariness was not incidental.  On the contrary: it was a fundamental part of the Duvalierist machine, essential to creating a climate of fear and exerting political and social control.  In 1991, Jean Dominique spoke with members the Komite Pa Bliye (the Do Not Forget Committee), a sometimes-uneasy alliance of survivors and relatives of the victims of Duvalierist violence (including Guylène Bouchereau, whose father, Captain Jean Bouchereau, was among the officers who disappeared on April 26, 1963).  Jean Dominique summarizes the ruthless logic of the regime’s terror: “If an individual man decided to fight against Duvalier, Duvalier would say, ‘if you fight against me, your entire bloodline will disappear.’ So, in addition to the destruction that the dictatorship carried out, it established a rule of terrorism, a domino effect that would exterminate entire families, entire bloodlines.”

*           *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

Jean-Claude Duvalier’s fall and hasty departure from Haiti on February 7, 1986 was followed by an initial swell of hope that the democratic project could at last begin.  Devoir de mémoire (the duty of remembrance) was part of that process: commemorating the tragedies and atrocities of the past so that they would not happen again.  But the democratic dream stalled almost as soon as it took off; neither the authoritarian structures the regime had created nor the sense of terror that the regime had inculcated could be removed as easily as the dictator himself.

On April 26, 1986, a group of people, among them several surviving members of the Benoît and Edeline families, commemorated the massacres of April 26, 1963 by organizing a mass at Sacre Coeur church followed by a march to Fort Dimanche, the notorious prison where untold opponents of the Duvalier regime were tortured and killed.  Many young people, excited at the possibility of social and political change, participated in the demonstration.  Jackson Row, twenty-six years old, worked as a typist at the Nouvelliste.  He would have been a small child, unaware, when the 1963 violence took place.  High school students Wilson Auguste and Wilson Nicaisse, aged eighteen and sixteen, had not yet been born in 1963.   They were too young, all of them, to really remember the bloodiest years of the Duvalier regime.  Nevertheless they went out that day to commemorate the injustices of the past.  The mothers of both Wilson Auguste and Jackson Row would later speak of how their sons had never even seen Fort Dimanche before that day.

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Headline reads: Another blood-stained April 26: eight victims at midday in front of Fort Dimanche

Gary Desenclos, a human rights observer at the march, watched the events unfold from a point between the crowd assembled in front of Fort Dimanche and the soldiers standing guard.  As Desenclos explains on Radio Haiti, the commander instructed the other soldiers that if there was any “provocation” from the demonstrators, they should respond to the provocation.  “That was the first warning, for me,” Desenclos reflects.  “Because, I don’t know – those people didn’t have any kind of defensive weapons, tear gas, anything like that.  So when you say ‘respond to provocation’ and you’ve got a rifle in your hands, I don’t know what that could mean.”  The protestors were peaceful.  At times they became impassioned, shouting and chanting, but they were unarmed, and, according to Desenclos, François Benoît managed to calm the crowd.  And then, suddenly (“this was, for me, the most incomprehensible thing,” Desenclos recalls), the soldiers stepped back.  The crowd advanced.  And then, from somewhere, a shot rang out, the sound of a projectile, likely a tear gas canister, being launched.

After the fact, some people would argue that the shot could have come from within the crowd.  But, as Desenclos observed, the only person with a projectile launcher was that same commanding officer.  Desenclos heard the shot.  “And it came from my far left.  There was no crowd at my far left…. The shot didn’t come from the crowd.  It came from the soldiers.”

The soldiers opened fire, the massacre began.  They shot blanks into the air and bullets into the crowd.  The measured, neutral testimony the human rights observer becomes more fragmented as he recalls the massacre.  “I can tell you something, because I work for a human rights mission: I find this completely against all principles of human rights.  At a certain point, several people in the crowd tried to save a young man, they tried to carry him away.  And I saw two or three soldiers point their rifles at them and said, ‘Lage l atè.  Lage l atè.  Lage l atè. Drop him.  Drop him.  Drop him.’”   At one point, Desenclos saw a man ripped apart by bullets.  “He told me his name in that moment, but I’ve forgotten his name.  There was no one there to help him, and I went to him, and he said, Pa bliye di ki m rele entèl.  Don’t forget to tell them my name was so-and-so.”

Among those killed that day were Jackson Row, Wilson Auguste, and Wilson Nicaisse.

The relatives of the three young men wrote a letter to the Minister of Justice.  It begins:

“We are: Mezilia Solivert, mother of Jackson Row; Vernilia Vernet, mother of Wilson Auguste; Matania Nicaisse, sister of Wilson Nicaisse.  Our children and brother left their homes to fulfill a duty in alongside others who had lost their loved ones: mothers who lost their children, children who never knew their fathers, those who lost sisters, and all those who have suffered down to their core.  It was the first time in twenty-nine years that such people could cry for what they had lost.  It was the first time they could discover where their relatives’ bones were buried.  It was the first time that they would light a candle and bring flowers to the dead.  Our children and brother never came home.  They fell before Fort Dimanche, the same place where Duvalier’s criminals and evildoers carried out their murders.

“Our children and brother went to a peaceful demonstration.  They had no guns, they had no machetes, they had no knives in their hands.  They died just as those who died under Duvalier.  And just the same, to this day we don’t know how this happened, nor who is responsible.  Democratic organizations, newspapers, radio, everyone has cried out… but nothing has come of it.  It’s as though it were nothing at all.  Minister, sir, we raised our children, we turned them into brave men, and all we have reaped is pain.  They took them from us.”

*           *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

On the one-year anniversary of the 1986 massacre, the mothers and sister of the slain young men demand justice on the airwaves of Radio Haiti.  Their grief is still fresh. Their testimonies are raw, choked and painful.  They are working-class women, supporting their families as small-scale vendors (ti machann) in downtown Port-au-Prince.  Unlike, for example, François Benoît and the members of the Komite Pa Bliye (relatively affluent and educated people who chose to participate in devoir de mémoire because of the violence and loss they had endured in their families), these three women are almost certainly unaccustomed to making public claims for justice.  As they speak, the lives and personalities of the young victims emerge in touchingly real terms.

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Radio Haiti script detailing the search for justice by relatives of the victims of the April 26, 1986 Fort Dimanche massacre

Her voice hoarse, Mezilia Solivert describes her son, Jackson Row. “Jackson was someone, a young man, who never had a problem with anybody.  Everyone liked him, he liked everyone.  Old and young, he respected everyone.”  He saw the procession from Sacre Coeur to the prison, and decided to join.  “He helped the people carry flowers and everything,” his mother recalled.  “He came back to my home, changed his clothes, and he told me he’d never seen Fort Dimanche, this was the first time he was going to Fort Dimanche.  And he left, and he never returned.”  Jackson Row’s friends couldn’t bring themselves to tell his mother that he had died.  They brought her his small radio and his wallet, and told her that he’d been tear gassed and taken to the hospital, but that he wasn’t dead.  “And then I got to the hospital and saw him lying among the dead, with a bullet in his head.”

Vernilia Vernet, mother of Wilson Auguste, an eighteen-year-old high school student, remembers her son in poignant, sweet detail.  She is on the verge of tears the entire time she speaks.  “I worked hard to raise that child right.  He was a child who never went out. When he wanted to go [to the demonstration], he said, Mama, I’m going downtown and then he said, ‘If I had the money, I’ve never been to Fort Dimanche, I’d like to see Fort Dimanche.’  So he heard the mass on the radio, and he said, ‘That mass, that’s something I’d like to be part of.’  So he got himself cleaned up, he put on his clothes, and he went to the mass… When I came home from working downtown, I asked, ‘Oh, where’s Wilson?  He hasn’t eaten the food I left for him?  Where’s Wilson?’  And my youngest said, ‘Mama, I was going to tell you.  He’s been out since this morning to go to the mass, he was so excited about it, he went to it, and he still hasn’t come back.’  And I said, ‘Well, pitit mwen, he must be dead.’  He was a child – he was never looking for trouble.  He never went out.  The latest he ever came home was 8 pm when school gets out, other than that he didn’t go out at all.  And that child was dear to me.  Ever since he died…!  I’m barely alive at all.  That child spoiled me so.  If I got home later than usual from downtown, he would say, ‘Oh!  Makomè! What were you doing out so late?  You know I miss you when I haven’t seen you all day.  You need to hurry home.’  When I get home, he even washes my clothes for me.  That child did laundry for me.  Sometimes I’d come home to find my clothes, even my underwear, washed – he’s the one who washed them for me. I never had to lift a finger at home.  Since that child died, I’ve wasted away.”

“Justice, to me, is for these things to stop happening in the country of Haiti.  Shooting people for no reason,” continues Mezilia Solivert.  Her words unconsciously recall Jean Dominique’s analysis of the lethal logic of Duvalierism, refracted through her own experience, demonstrating again that though the Duvaliers were gone, Duvalierism and Macoutism remained.  “When they kill someone’s relative, it’s the whole family they’re killing.  They don’t realize that.  But that’s it.  When you kill one person, you’re destroying the entire family. Because when you kill one person, that was the one who helped the whole family.  So you’ve destroyed the entire family.”

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April 26, 1987 poster commemorating the violence of the regime: photographs of Duvalier’s victims, arranged in the shape of Fort Dimanche. The photos include John-Robert Cius, one of the Twa Flè Lespwa, killed in Gonaïves in November 1985; Richard Brisson, Radio Haiti’s station manager, killed in January 1982; Philippe Dominique, Jean Dominique’s elder brother, killed in July 1958 after an attempt to overthrow Duvalier; the victims of the April 26, 1986 Fort Dimanche massacre.

 

Post contributed by Laura Wagner, PhD, Radio Haiti Project Archivist. 

Rare sheet music finds in the Hartman Center

The Hartman Center is currently processing the Gary B. and Sandra G. Baden Collection of Print Advertisements, a collection of about 50 linear feet of print ads that cover primarily the first three quarters of the twentieth century. It is notable and was initially attractive to the Hartman Center for its early ads for automobiles, perfume and watches, but it also includes a wide range of corporate ads as well as some travel and tourism literature.

The Badens were avid collectors, and the collection also includes some non-advertising-related materials: issues of international magazines; direct mail materials; packaging; old maps; and some sheet music. There are about eight compositions from the early 1900s-1930s, including Stephen Foster, Irving Berlin as well as some tunes from the Ragtime/Minstrel/Vaudeville era. Of these, two items especially stand out.

m-m-mazie

The first, a Thomas Allen/William Macauley ragtime tune entitled “M-M-Mazie” from 1904, is fairly well known, but this one has a seemingly rare cover. Most digitized versions, including one held by Duke, features a red cover with a photograph of pianist Joseph A. Callahan. The version found in the Baden collection features a blue cover with a photograph of the African American Vaudeville duo Brandow and Wiley. Brandow and Wiley were quite prominent in their day, one of the few black song-and-dance acts to star in the mainly white Keith-Orpheum circuit of theaters. Russell Brandow was an acrobatic dancer and a specialist in what was known as comedic “grotesque dance.” Stella Wiley was a singer and dancer who was previously married to the notable composer, producer and musician Bob Cole, credited with creating the first all-black musical production, “A Trip to Coontown” (1898), and a creative who worked to break down the minstrel-era racial stereotypes in theater. The history of African American vaudeville, minstrel shows and other performing arts in the early 20th century is still an emerging research field, so it is exciting to find a picture of this pair of performers.

As a side note, March was Disability Awareness Month, and “M-M-Mazie” regularly appears in scholarly work on the exploitation of speech impediments and other disabilities in popular cultural productions like songs and story narratives. The chorus goes “M’m M’m M’m Mazie My d’d d’d daisy You I adore; and everyday that passes by I love you m-m more and more.”

coontown promenade

The second piece of sheet music poses a bit more of a mystery. It’s an 1899 piece entitled “Coontown Promenade” or alternatively, “Coontown or Loyola Minstrels Promenade,” a cake-walk and two-step composition. The composer, Johann Schmid, was quite prolific composer of popular music, with nearly 300 known compositions ranging from minstrel tunes to rags and schottisches, but very little is known of him as a person. “Coontown Promenade” does not seem to appear in any library holdings, digital sheet music collections or in the WorldCat database. It also does not appear in online databases of known compositions by Schmid, although it does appear in the register of U.S. copyright applications. The Loyola University Music Club did perform minstrels in the early 1900s but it is unclear whether this was among them.  A very exciting find in a very unexpected place.

Post contributed by Rick Collier, Technical Services Archivist, John W. Hartman Center

Meet the Staff: Laura Wagner, Radio Haiti Project Archivist

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 Laura Wagner is the Project Archivist for the Radio Haiti Archives. She joined the Rubenstein in 2015. She has a PhD in anthropology from UNC. Her dissertation is about the 2010 earthquake and its long aftermath: how did people’s everyday lives and social worlds change (or not change) in the wake of the disaster and displacement? How do people get by in an aid economy? How did Haitian people and non-Haitian interveners make sense of the humanitarian response and its failures?  She also wrote a YA novel, Hold Tight, Don’t Let Go , which deals with some of the same issues. Her interests include Haiti, literary fiction and nonfiction, humanitarianism, human rights, and social justice. She has been a frequent contributor to the Devil’s Tale since joining the RL. 

How do you describe what you do to people you meet at a party?  To fellow librarians and library staff?

At parties I say “I work on the archives of Haiti’s first independent radio station.”  Then that confuses them and they think I’m doing research in the archives, and I have to clarify that I’m processing the materials.  Then they generally want to know why these materials live at Duke.  And if I’m at a party in Haiti, people then want to talk to about their own memories of Radio Haiti and of Jean Dominique, and they ask me if the station will ever reopen. To librarians and library staff, I say I’m a project archivist who never trained as an archivist.

What led you to working in libraries?

This project.  I had never worked in a library before.  I began working on this project as an external contractor for the Forum for Scholars and Publics, which was collaborating with the Library to create a public-facing pilot website with a small sample of the Radio Haiti recordings.  When the opportunity to apply for the Project Archivist job came along, I applied.  I had already decided that if it was possible, I wanted to work on this project full time.  Temperamentally and experientially, I am probably a bit of an outlier among the library set.

Tell us about your relationship to Radio Haiti. How has it evolved since taking on this position?

Jean Dominique, Michèle Montas, and other members of the Radio Haiti team had numbered among my heroes since I first started learning about Haiti and learning Haitian Creole, back in 2004.  I never could have imagined that one day I would have the opportunity to work on preserving the work of Radio Haiti.  The first time I met Michèle, in April 2014, I was embarrassingly giddy. It is a huge honor to work on this project.

I’m learning a lot about late twentieth century Haiti, in a very granular way.  I already knew the major events and trends, the main themes, but always analytically and in hindsight.  It’s a very different experience to learn about events through real-time, day-to-day reporting, done by people who did not yet know the outcome of the story.  It’s fascinating, but also often sad and frustrating because you see the same things happening over and over and over again, until today.  The same injustices, the same impunity, though sometimes it “repaints its face”, to use a phrase that Jean Dominique uses.

 How does your work at the Rubenstein influence your approach to research and writing?

I was a researcher and writer before I started working on this project, so I have to keep myself in check; I cannot follow my instincts and desires by letting myself act as a researcher and writer when my job, for the moment, is to be processing the archive.  That said,  I hope to someday write something substantial about this archive.  I can also say that my experience as a researcher and writer influences my approach to processing this archive.  I want it all to be clear and transparent; I want to provide context and thematic guidance for future researchers and listeners.  Working on the Radio Haiti archive has been a huge learning experience for me, and I want to impart as much of that knowledge as possible to others down the line, by incorporating that knowledge into the structure and description of the archive.

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What does an average day at RL look like for you? 

Because this is a single project with a clear goal and endpoint, and with defined stages, my typical workday varies depending on what we’re working on.  These days I am mostly working through Radio Haiti’s paper archive.  So I get to work, answer some email, and start organizing the papers, removing the faded invisible Thermofax pages, sorting them by subject and year.  I have two excellent undergraduate assistants this semester, both Haitian, who are starting to listen to and describe some of the recordings.  I am very eager to finish processing the papers so I can focus on the audio full-time.  I also spend part of the day thinking about broader questions of access — how we’re going to make this collection as available and accessible as possible to people in Haiti, given the social and infrastructural realities there.  I am very eager to begin working on the recordings full-time, of course.

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Laura working alongside her student assistant Tanya Thomas.

What do you like best about your job? What excites you most?

What excites me the most is that I am helping keep this important work alive, making it accessible to people in Haiti and beyond. And I just really like the experience of listening to the recordings.  Sometimes it’s hard for me to listen as an archivist, rather than as a researcher and writer.  So it’s fun when I get to write a blog entry about the project, and synthesize and put together different parts of the archive, translate some excerpts, and provide context to people who may not already know the story of Radio Haiti.  As I said, it’s a great honor to work on this collection, to be entrusted with this collection.  As Michèle says, part of Jean’s soul is here.

What might people find surprising about your job?

I think it depends on the person. For people who aren’t used to processing archival collections (id est most people), I think they’d be surprised at how much physical restoration, intellectual labor and time this job takes.  A lot of people want the Radio Haiti collection to be available as soon as possible.  (I’m one of them!) And many people don’t understand why we can’t do it instantly.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

I have two answers to that, which are sort of incommensurate with one another.  In a day-to-day sense, it can be tedious, and I sometimes feel isolated in this work.  Radio Haiti itself was a team effort — it was a social, collaborative, interactive entity, an act of ongoing solidarity, both in terms of the journalists and their audience… and the audience was nearly all of Haiti.  So engaging with that work in my cubicle in a converted tobacco warehouse in Durham, North Carolina, can feel lonely.  At the same time, I feel connected to the people who appear in the tapes, across time and space, even across life and death.  Which brings me to the second challenging aspect of this job, which is actually the same as my favorite thing about the job: the weight of history, the weight of memory.  This collection is a huge part of Haitian national heritage. And so much of it is sad, frustrating and infuriating — there is so much injustice, suffering, and absurdity in this archive.  Sometimes it’s emotionally difficult to listen to these things — though Jean Dominique’s incisive intellect and humor make it easier.  It sounds strange, but I laugh all the time.

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Laura surveys her boxes

Do you have a favorite piece or collection at The Rubenstein? Why?

Well, the Radio Haiti collection is obviously my favorite collection, for all the reasons I’ve mentioned.  I’m not intimately familiar with the other collections, but the National Coalition for Haitian Rights archive has some fascinating material in it that often complements the Radio Haiti collection.  And I like all the History of Medicine collections, especially Benjamin Rush papers, which are poignant, and the creepy suede baby + placenta.

Where can you be found when you’re not working?

Cooking dinner with friends, baking cakes, drinking a beer, vaguely working on novel #2, vaguely revising my dissertation, singing in the car, asking my cats why they are thundering hither and yon at 2 am.  I like making silly little greeting cards for friends; I’ve been thinking about taking an actual art class or something.  I’d like to know how to access all the other seasons of the Great British Baking Show.  And I’ve started running as of late, at which I am truly mediocre.  It’s liberating to do something you know you have no hope of being good at.

What book is on your nightstand/in your carryall right now?

There’s a stack!  I’ve been slowly savoring the Complete Stories of Clarice Lispector for a few weeks, but it’s a bit heavy to carry around.

Interview conducted and edited by Katrina Martin.

An Investigation into Rubenstein LOLcats

I was delighted to find that one of our newest collections, the Terence Mitchell Collection of Tobacco Advertising, includes a run of Real Photographs, a series for the De Reszke cigarettes produced by J. Millhoff & Co. in England. These tiny cards feature animals posed in funny ways, doing adorable things, with cute captions. They are basically the tobacco card version of today’s Internet cat memes.

kitties1 kitties212719587_10104455346032688_1393435410260392224_oThese tobacco cards gave me an excuse to look into the history of cat photography, particularly pictures of funny cats with captions. It turns out that posing cats in outfits is not a new trend, despite the persistent popularity of Internet memes like LOLcats and I Can Haz Cheezburger. Matthew Hussey’s 2012 article on A History of LOLcats explains that early photographers quickly discovered the marketability of cats, and began selling cat postcards and cartes de visite as early as 1870. Harry Pointer, the first known photographer of cats posed in silly ways, marketed his photos as The Brighton Cats – so named for his Brighton, England, photography studio. A later photographer who was even more commercially successful was American Harry Whittier Frees (1879-1953), whose postcards and children’s books featured animals, especially cats, doing funny things. Frees was so talented in posing and photographing his animals that some questioned their authenticity. In his preface to The Little Folks of Animal Land (1915), he explained his techniques, saying, “The difficulties encountered in posing kittens and puppies for pictures of this kind have been overcome only by the exercise of great patience and invariable kindness.” After their photoshoot, Frees writes, “my little models … enjoy nothing better than a frolic about the studio.” The Library of Congress now holds a collection of Frees’ photographs. You can view them here.

I think that the tobacco card industry jumped on the funny animal pose trend, which explains why the run featured here is the fourth of five runs of Real Photographs produced by J. Millhoff & Co. between 1931 and 1935. The fourth run that I found in the Mitchell Collection dates to 1932. (It could be that the other runs are also present! We are continuing to process these tobacco cards – there are several thousand of them.) It makes sense that tobacco companies would have realized the marketability of cute animals. They were also smart enough to recognize the popularity of baseball players and pretty actresses. (Check out the newly digitized W. Duke and Sons collection of tobacco cards.)

Looking at all of Harry Whittier Frees’ photographs online led to me wonder what sort of cute cat pictures we hold in Rubenstein. You’ll be pleased to know we have several in our vast Postcard Collection. Here are some of my favorites, all from the early 20th century.

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Caption reads: Why So Cross Dear? Photograph by E.D. Putnam & Son, Anich, N.H.
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Photomechanical print. No known photographer.
Salt print postcard. No known photographer.
Salt print postcard. No known photographer.
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Caption: Little Miss White. Copyright by C.E. Bullard. Published by M.T. Sheahan, Boston, Mass.

This last one is by Charles E. Bullard, another early twentieth century photographer who wisely copyrighted his cat pictures, and then worked with publishers to distribute them widely. This 1915 profile of Bullard in The American Magazine is truly hilarious and details his methods for capturing the perfect LOLcat. Here’s an excerpt:

“It is no easy job to photograph a cat. He is very unreasonable as to staying where he is put, and the only system is to use infinite patience. I have worked half a day trying to photograph a cat in a particular pose, and then had to give up in despair.”

I am on the lookout for other photographs of historical LOLcats, especially those held in Rubenstein collections. If you find some, let me know!

Post contributed by Meghan Lyon, Section Head Manuscript Processing.

April 3: Jistis pou Jando

“Why all this noise and all this furor for a man two years dead?  Why all these mobilizations throughout the country?” With these words, Michèle Montas began her April 2002 editorial on the second anniversary of the assassination of her husband, Radio Haiti-Inter director Jean Dominique, and station employee Jean-Claude Louissaint.  “Why Jean Dominique?  This question has been asked for several weeks, in the background of the mobilizations around the second anniversary of the assassination of the journalist Jean Dominique.  It is asked in whispers, but the admiring or, for some, incredulous sotto voce at times grows annoyed and strident among those who do not understand that this dead man refuses to die.  That a murder perpetrated two years ago, now, continues to make news. Why Jean Dominique?”

pa kite san jando drive ate

On April 3, 2002, the grassroots human rights group Fondation 30 Septembre poured red paint before the gate of the Ministry of Justice (which leader Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine referred to sardonically as the “Ministry of Injustice”) and displayed an effigy of the slain journalist.  The slogan was “Pa kite san Jando drive atè.”  “Don’t let Jean Do’s blood pool on the ground.”   Two years after the murders, people were angry and frustrated that the judicial process had stalled.  Now, sixteen years on, Jean Dominique and Jean-Claude Louissaint have still not found justice.  The Jean Dominique case, like so many attempts to combat injustice in Haiti, has been filled with absurdity, a tragicomedy of errors and malfeasance.

Pessimism is seductive in the face of such impunity, when the system is stacked and cynical, when the victories are relative or Pyrrhic, when convicted murderers, torturers, and war criminals like Luc Désir and the perpetrators of the Raboteau massacre eventually walk free.   When the state cannot or will not provide justice — when the state provides, instead, a mockery of justice –justice can manifest beyond the courts, beyond the government, beyond the system.  It can manifest in the streets.  La justice du peuple est en marche.


In 2001, artist Maxan Jean-Louis painted the assassination of Jean Dominique and Jean-Claude Louissaint.  The canvas is dominated by the Radio Haiti building with its emblematic red-and-blue vèvè (a vodou symbol reimagined in the shape of a microphone).  In the background are two men struck down in the parking lot.  Jean’s silenced microphone lies beside him. Jean’s family and the Radio Haiti staff weep while the police and the media look on – rather helplessly, it seems, their arms at their sides.  Tears run down the face of one of the policemen.

yo touye jando

The most dynamic part of the painting are the protestors in the foreground, the men and women standing in the street, outside the station’s walls, clamoring for justice while the weeping policeman looks on.  Their arms raised in protest, their lips parted as they shout, they carry signs:  DOWN WITH CRIMINALS.  WE MUST HAVE JUSTICE.  DOWN WITH THE DEATH MACHINE.  LONG LIVE PEACE.  JUSTICE FOR JOURNALISTS. JUSTICE FOR JEAN DOMINIQUE.  Above them is written: APRIL 3 2000.  FAREWELL JEAN DOMINIQUE.  THE PEASANTS WILL NEVER FORGET YOU.

In the literal sense, that was not how it happened.  Jean Dominique was shot just after 6 am, at the time of the daily Creole news broadcast, and he was pronounced dead at l’Hôpital de la Communauté Haïtienne shortly after.  There was no time for crowds to assemble while his body still lay on the ground.

The painting is a metaphor, then, or perhaps a depiction of time compressed.  The urban and rural masses and civil society organizations did mobilize that very day and for years after: grassroots human rights groups, grassroots peasants’ groups, women’s groups, unions, and ordinary citizens. As Michèle Montas explains, “the mobilizations began on April 3, 2000, through the protests and the expressions of solidarity of hundreds of people shocked by the assassination of a pro-democracy activist who had survived all the regimes against which he had courageously fought, to fall victim to a contract killing during a democratic season that he worked to establish.”

Five days after the murders, on April 8, the state funeral for Jean Dominique and Jean-Claude Louissaint at Stade Sylvio Cator in downtown Port-au-Prince was attended by 15,000 people, of whom 10,000 were rural farmers.   On July 31, 2000 – what would have been Jean Dominique’s seventieth birthday – more than 10,000 peasant farmers from the Association des Planteurs et Distillateurs de Léogâne et Gressier gathered at the Darbonne sugar factory to thank and demand justice for Jean Dominique.  That same day, the Centre de Production Agricole Jean L. Dominique, run by small-scale coffee growers, was inaugurated in Marmelade.  Hundreds of peasant farmers gathered to pay tribute.  And that same day, musicians, poets, and vodouisants gathered in the courtyard of Radio Haiti to pay homage to Jean Dominique.

In the archive of things Radio Haiti held onto, I came across a song called “Won’t Jean Dominique Find Justice?” by Haiti Rap Force.  From the hand-drawn cover, I assume it was a local rap group from one of Port-au-Prince’s quartiers populaires.  They sing that justice is not achieved through only formal, state-sponsored institutions.

Dosye Jean Dominique pa koute sèlman tribinal
sa konsène tout tout moun an jeneral
n’ap bat poun fè ti pèp la bliye
Nou pa gen dwa janm bliye lanmò Jean Dominique
Refren:
Men se ki lès ki gen flanbo-a kap klere chimen-an poun pa tonbe
Men se ki lès ki konn chimen-an ki va di nou kote nou prale

The Jean Dominique case won’t just be heard in the tribunal
It concerns every single person in general
Trying to make the people forget
But we shall not ever forget the death of Jean Dominique
Refrain:
But who will hold the torch that will light the way so we do not fall?
But who knows the path, who will tell us where we are going?


At the end of the editorial, Michèle returns to the question with which she opened.  “Why Jean Dominique?  Why all this noise, all this noise and all this furor, for a man two years dead?  Why these mobilizations reaching well beyond our borders?  This question is asked in different tones: with admiration among those who understand only now that justice and the defense of freedom are not a gift, and that they can only be the result of permanent pressure to force institutions and political leaders to act in accordance with their mandates; with hostility on the part of the enemies of the journalist, those who ordered his killing, or those who rejoiced at April 3, 2000, at being freed from a voice so strong and, for certain interests, so troublesome. ‘Jean Dominique pa pitimi san gadò’ [Jean Dominique is not unguarded and free for the taking], as we say in one of our radio spots.  His killers had no idea how true that was.”

Thinking about grassroots mobilization in response to injustice reminds me of Jacques Roumain’s Masters of the Dew (Gouverneurs de la rosée).  It is the story of Manuel, a poor cultivator from rural Haiti who becomes politically engaged and organizes his fellow peasants to overcome the things that divide them, to unite in defense of their rights and their land.  Manuel organizes a konbit, the traditional form of communal labor, before he is stabbed to death.  Jean Dominique and his elder sister, the writer Madeleine Paillère, were so moved by novel that they translated the dialogue into Haitian Creole and adapted it for radio in 1972-1973.  It is one fitting epitaph for an agronomist-activist, an intellectual who at great cost threw in his lot with the dispossessed, a man who believed that redemption lay not in suffering, but in solidarity.

On chante le deuil, c’est la coutume, avec les cantiques des morts, mais lui, Manuel, a choisi un cantique pour les vivants: le chant du coumbite, le chant de la terre, de l’eau, des plantes, de l’amitié entre habitants, parce qu’il a voulu, je comprends maintenant, que sa mort soit pour vous le recommencement de la vie. 

It is the custom to mourn by singing hymns for the dead, but he, Manuel, had chosen a hymn for the living – the song of the konbit, the song of the soil, of the water, of the plants, of friendship between peasants, because he wanted, I understand now, that his death be for all of you the a new beginning of life.

RH painting detail

Post contributed by Laura Wagner, PhD, Radio Haiti Project Archivist.