CSMS StaffsBoca Raton, Florida: It was a weekend full of emotion, nostalgia and utmost patriotism. They came from all over South Florida on Friday, March 31st 2006, to pay tribute to one of the best Haitian writers, Jacques Stephen Alexis. About 250 people showed up for the event as the book of signatures confirmed. We were shocked to meet groups of compatriots who made it from as far as Naples, in the Florida’s west coast. Throughout the week leading up to the Friday night tribute, the CSMS office was swamped by calls from people who were looking for direction.It has been some time since the community had the privilege to enjoy events of such caliber, free of charge. Thus came the great nostalgia for the 1980s’ era, when political, cultural and literary activities were the norm, not some rare exception. Of course, 20 years after the Duvaliers fled Haiti, a lot has happened. Gone was the feverish dream of returning to the Mother Land to celebrate le grand soir de la révolution, gone was the protracted struggle against INS’ biased policies against Haitians immigrants and gone was the thirst to learn about the revolutionary side of the Haitian literature.The protagonists of the 1980s’ movement are now historic retirees who rest their case not reason of physical impairments, not for lack of moral and political evidence, but because they have come to discover that the struggle for social justice could be lengthy and rarely bring the fame and the financial success that conformist politicians can achieve in just one leap. But Friday night was a sweet exception that will get the participants dazed for many years to come.The event began around 7:30 with a performance by the Konbit Kreyol dancers that was soon followed by speeches from various personalities like Dr. Ardain Isma, CSMS president, Dr. Dolores Smiley, Dean of School of Diversity Education at Nova Southeastern University, Bobby Pascal, Konbit Kreyol president, professor Carrol Coates, Gerald Bloncourt, Florence Alexis and more…Sosyete Koukouy of Jean Mapou, Yolande Thomas, The Maroons, the Roots dancers also rocked the house in between speeches.Dr. Dolores Smiley kept this audience on its toes with her usual flamboyant style, reading the gut-wrenching passage of the Artibonite River in full fury that JSA eloquently described in Compère Général Soleil. As the sundown faded behind the horizon and streaks of lights blazed across the sky, one has the impression that Jacques Soleil was well alive in the room, 45 years later. Gérald Bloncourt, who sat in the front row, was visibly shaken. His eyes turned moist and red as he plunged in retrospect to remember Cinq Glorieuse, the 1946 youth movement that brought down president Elie Lescot from power. The Saturday event gathered about 60 people. It was very informative, well structured and well delivered by the presenters. Edwidge Danticat, her husband and her new baby joined us there. Many people failed to show up on time due to an error in the time displayed in the invitation card. The event was scheduled at 11 AM, but the card said 1 PM. As a result, some people came at the end of the presentations. This was the case for Hudes Desrameaux, columnist of The Haitian Times.Last night, at the Renaissance Hotel in Boca Raton, Florida, Jacques Stephen Alexis’ ideas, once again, took center stage during Konbit Kreyol of Florida Atlantic University (FAU) annual banquet. It was a dazzling moment when club president, Bobby Pascal presented a plaque of honor to Dr. Ardain Isma, a novelist himself, for his tireless works to bring to the fore the Haitian literature.Finally, CSMS is sending special thanks to Planet Radio that went above and beyond, promoting the event, Samantha Jacob for her commanding lead in coordinating the events, Jimmy Louis and Cancy Francois from FAU, our best photographer Alan P. from NSU, Autralian-born writer Bernard Diederich, Yolande Thomas who shook many souls for her impressive performance in Envokasyon Soley and everyone came out to make Friday night an evening to remember.
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