Introduction Haitian Religion in Miami
Spiritually, poetically, and politically it is altogether fitting that the heart of Haitian life in Miami beats precisely at the intersection of streets named for the great Haitian poet Félix Morisseau-Leroy and the great African American civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. Félix Moris- seau-Leroy was the first major writer to compose plays and poetry in Haitian Creole, the language of the Haitian masses, a language whose official recognition by the Haitian government—a status previously reserved for the French of the Haitian elite—was in large part the result of the bard’s advocacy and international acclaim. Like so many of his compatriots, “Moriso,” as he is affectionately known to Haitians, had to flee Haiti in 1953 because of political oppression and take refuge abroad, first in France and then in several African countries before settling in Miami in 1981. There, in the “Magic City,” he would pass the last sev- enteen years of his life, just as Miami’s Haitian diaspora was beginning to swell, a community in which he “was hailed as the forerunner of many of their efforts; as one of them said on his death: ‘He realised that for people to understand the problems, they need to be taught in their own language, not a language they don’t understand. Otherwise, they’re being mystified, they’re being shown a lack of respect’” (Caistor 1998). Martin Luther King’s profound commitment to the gospel and to social change toward securing civil rights for African Americans, meanwhile, exemplifies the faith and resilience of another African-descended peo- ple, Haitians, who have come to America in search of life, of a better life, for themselves, their loved ones, and for Haiti.
On any given Sunday, multitudes from the Haitian diaspora con- gregate at the intersection of these two streets at the intersection of King and Morisseau-Leroy in Little Haiti. Most of them gather at Notre Dame d’Haiti Catholic Church, while others shuffle to their Protestant storefront churches, read more >>