Title of Course: Black History 201: The History of Haiti

Instructor: Mba Mbulu

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Class #5: Early Haitian History, Part 1 [ Audio Version]

Read the Essay below. Be able to answer and expound on the following questions.


(1) Where is Haiti, and what well known country is close to it?
(2) Why is Haiti so historically important to Black People?
(3) Are there any similarities between the early histories of Haiti and the United States of America?
(4) With such important similarities, why didn't Haiti develop the way the United States did?
(5) Why is it that Black People in the United States, Black People in Haiti and Black People in Cuba can represent an Axis of Dominance for Black Power in the Americas?

Class #5 Essay

Haiti is located in the Caribbean, only a few miles southeast of Cuba. It is part of the island that the Spanish named La Hispaniola. La Hispaniola is where Cristóbal Colón (Christopher Columbus) landed when he "discovered" America. Haiti, the smaller section of La Hispaniola, is closer to Cuba and was called San Domingo when it was a French colony. The Dominican Republic was a Spanish colony, and its principal city was called Santo Domingo. The two names are frequently confused. In this course, when the term San Domingo is used, it will always refer to Haiti. When Santo Domingo is used, it will refer to the Domincan Republic or its principal city.

From the white perspective, Haiti is the first republic in the Americas to be led by a person of African descent. Because of the revolutionary action of people of color in Haiti (then called San Domingo), Napoleon Bonaparte, the French emperor, was forced to abandon his bid for control of Louisiana and the rest of the western section of the United States of America. Were it not for the actions of Black People in Haiti, the United States would most likely be quite different from what it is today.

One is forced to notice some similarities between the early histories of Haiti and the United States. Both were formerly inhabited by indigenous populations that were wiped out by white colonists, white mercenaries and white militaries. Both, as colonies, prospered economically through the labor of slaves shipped in from Africa, and both fought for independence around the end of the 18th century. In the United States, white slaveowners benefitted from slavery, fought for their freedom only and won, while in Haiti the slaves who were victimized by bondage fought for their freedom and won. However much the post-independence paths of the United States and Haiti have been different, they were part and parcel of a single process; especially from an economic standpoint. Within this process, the United States was allowed to develop according to its potential, and is today the largest economic power in the world. Haiti, on the other hand, within this same process, saw white governments conspire against its development, and has consistently remained one of the poorest countries in the world.

Black People in the United States, Black People in Haiti and Black People in Cuba. Therein lies an Axis of Dominance for Black Power in the Americas that makes white power shudder. The cultural and historical ties that bind the Black brothers and sisters spread throughout Haiti, Cuba and the United States are richer than all others, run deeper than all others and are more capable of utterly suffocating white power than all others.

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