On the morning of May 11th, Daphnee Alva-Lafleur visited Gordon Halm at the African Community Center of Lowell. Noting that Haitian Flag day falls annually on May 18th, Daphnee approached Gordon with an idea of planning to host a local celebration of the date in 2019. Halm helps host the Ghanaian Flag raising every spring.
“Next year?” Gordon asked, “Why not next week?”
And with that, after a quick turnaround of only a few days, the first ever Haitian Flag raising at Lowell City Hall was held the following Friday, May 18th.
The first Haitian flag was adopted on the 18th of May 1803. Haitian lore holds that the newly appointed revolutionary leader Jean-Jacques Dessalines created the flag by taking a French tricolor and ripping out the white center, which he discarded. He then asked Catherine Flon, his god-daughter, to sew the remaining bands together. The blue was taken to represent Haiti’s black citizens and the red the native population of the island. The story is widely known in Haiti: the anniversary of the date is celebrated as the Haitian Flag Day.
Mayor Samaras was pleased to welcome the group celebrating the historic event. “Several times throughout the year we gather to raise the flags of various ethnic groups in the city. Some gatherings we will have literally a hundred plus people in the plaza, other times we will have small groups of less than ten. But the message we aim to send is clear. Whatever your background, you are welcome here in the City of Lowell. I am very proud to be here today for the first time celebrating the raising of the Haitian flag at Lowell City Hall.”
The spirited crowd that attended the morning’s ceremony expressed excitement for future events, noting that in subsequent events they hope to spread the word throughout the Haitian diaspora in Massachusetts. They’ve committed to coming back bigger and better in 2019 for the 2nd Annual Haitian Flag raising.
After all, if such a positive ceremony can be put together in a week, imagine what they will be able to do with a full year!