The Haitian American Lawyers Association of New York, Inc. wishes you a happy Haitian Flag Day and Haitian Heritage Month!
- A note on Haitian Flag Day from our President, Sherbune Paul Esq. -
Haitian Flag Day celebrates the unity of the Haitian people. On May 18, 1803, the leaders of the independence movement created the first Haitian flag in the city of Arcahaie. This year marks the 219th anniversary of the creation of the Haitian flag. Haiti became the first Black Republic in the world after the slave rebellion defeated the French army. It is said that the first Haitian flag was created by Jean-Jacques Dessalines and other leaders who decided to march on what is now Port-au-Prince and wanted to carry a flag that would represent their troops. Dessalines ripped the white pale from the center of the French tri-color flag to indicate that the French no longer had control over the colony, keeping the blue and red bands to symbolize the Black people and mixed-race people fighting for freedom, and the blood they shed to further the cause. A woman named Catherine Flon sewed the new flag together using vertical bands of blue and red cloth. The flag was inscribed with the phrase " Liberté ou la Mort" meaning "Freedom or Death.” The new flag became a symbol of unity for people of color in Haiti.
Over the years, the Haitian Flag has had many iterations including a black and red version, where black symbolized Death and red symbolized Freedom in 1805. The current Haitian Flag made its first appearance in October 1806, an updated version of the 1804 Haitian Flag, to which Alexandre Pétion added the inscription “L’union fait la force.” While this is the version of the Haitian Flag we all know and love today, the flag was actually modified several times between 1811 and 1964, until February 17, 1986 when the Haitian nation reverted back to the blue and red flag. The official Haitian Flag was ratified a year later by the adoption of the March 29, 1987 Haitian Constitution.
Today, not just Haitians celebrate flag day. Many Africans of the diaspora, regardless of their ancestry, also join in the holiday celebration. Haitian Flag Day not only commemorates the slave revolt in Haiti that led to the country's independence from France, but also the spark that led to slave uprisings in America.
The current Haitian flag is made up of two horizontal bands: a blue one on top and a red one below. Red now symbolizes the blood and the sacrifices made during the Haitian Revolution, and blue stands for hope and unity. The slogan on the flag reads “L'union fait la force” meaning, "In unity we find strength."