With Haiti's recent devastating earthquakes placing it firmly in the global consciousness as a nation wracked by both man-made and natural disasters, it is timely to reflect on the many people who fled the country throughout its history in search of a better life. Like many developing countries, it has experienced a brain-drain as many of its best and brightest leave its shores, fleeing political violence and grinding poverty. Most Haitian emigration has been next door to the Dominican Republic (where there are around 800,000 Haitians), and to the USA, with approximately 600,000 located primarily in New York and Miami. Other significant diasporas exist in France and Canada.
The Haitian diaspora includes a number of people you may have heard of:
End of Story, with producer Peshay.
Actress Garcelle Beauvais is perhaps best known for her roles on NYPD Blue and The Jamie Foxx Show. Born in St Marc in Haiti, she emigrated to New York at age 17 to pursue a modelling career.
Another basketball star with Haitian parentage is Mario Elie. The 6'5 swingman is a model of perseverance; he toiled in the minor leagues and in Portugal and Argentina for 7 seasons before landing in the NBA, where he was an integral part of the Houston Rockets' 2 championships in 1994 and 1995. He won a third championship with the San Antonio Spurs in 1999.
One of the cornerstones of African-American literature is The Souls of Black Folk, written by William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, better known as W.E.B. Du Bois (1868 - 1963). Du Bois was the first African-American to graduate from Harvard, and would go on to be a professor of history and economics at Atlanta University, and for a time was head of the NAACP, which he helped found.
More stuff on Haiti here and here.
Also check out:
The Nigerian diaspora: Musicians, Actors and Athletes
The Surinamese footballing diaspora
When is an American not an American?
West Indians now more Indian than ever