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Thursday, September 21, 2023

Jacques Stephen Alexis: A bittersweet remembrance

CSMS Magazine Staff writers

As part of a long tribute to Jacques Stephen Alexis, CSMS Magazine is dedicating the latter part of this summer and beyond to bringing the memory of this legendary Haitian hero back from the mountains of Haiti so that our readers could have a chance to educate themselves about the life and disappearance of one of the greatest Haitian writers ever lived. We’ll try to bring awareness of all aspects of his short but quite a productive life: his literary oeuvres, his philosophical thinking, his political ambitions and his ultimate death at the hands of the Tonton Macoutes (Papa Doc henchmen) in November of 1961 somewhere near Jean Rabel, a small town in the Northwest Province of Haiti. His body was never recovered. He was only 39 years old.

More than 50 years later, Jacques Soleil, as he was brotherly loved and named, lives on—in the lives of those who loved him and through his immortal works that never cease to be the subject of tangible debates in most academic venues around the world. JSA is the author of Compère Général Soleil—translated in countless of languages. His novelistic prose sent shockwaves to the veins of all enemies of Haiti, but also shed some powerful hope into the hearts of millions of disenfranchised Haitians.  

In the spring of 2006, the Center for Strategic and Multicultural Studies (CSMS) in collaboration with Dr. Delores Smiley, Dean of Diversity and Cultural Affairs at Fishler School of Education Nova Southeastern University and the Haitian Students Association of FAU in Boca Raton, Florida, organized a wonderful, patriotic event in honor of JSA.

The kickoff began at NSU on January 25 with a grand opening that could only be possible thanks to Dr. Smiley. An imposing group of academics, students and community leaders were at hands. A second event took place at Broward community College (BCC) North Campus where CSMS Education Specialist, Dr. Jean Gary Joseph, led the initiative in collaboration with the Haitian Students Association there. The finale was held on March 31, 2006 at FAU in Boca, where hundreds were present. Several VIPs were in attendance, including Dr. Delores Smiley of NSU, JSA widow, Andrée Roumer, Professor Carrol Coates who translated Compère Général Soleil into English under the title General Sun, My Brother, JSA children Florence (who came down from Paris seen here in this picture along with Bloncourt on the left, her brother and Dr. Ardain Isma on the right) and Jacques Alexis Junior, Gérald Bloncourt accompanied by Franco-Algerian movie producer Mhedi Lallaoui (also from Paris), Famed author Bernard Diederich etc…  

I gave special thanks to poet and photographer Cancy François, Jimmy Jean-Louis and film producer Rose Philippe Coriolan for their diehard and logistic supports for the project.

So during the few weeks and months, we’re going to upload pictures, about 300 of them, and videos of the events. We will bring some reflections not only about JSA’s life, but also about how can we apply his teachings to bring awareness on the current situation of Haiti. We invite our readers to take part. We’ll welcome poems, notes, allegories etc…

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