Reception for the Book Launch. Featuring its Pioneers. Dedicated to the Miami's Haitian Community, by David C. Brown, M.A
Photos by Rachel Moscoso Denis
LITTLE HAITI THEN
Little Haiti is the largest Haitian neighbrhood outside of Haiti. From the late 1950's and 1960's many Haitians began to flee their country because of conditions in Haiti at that time. Thousands more fled in the 1970's and 1980's, mostly by boat. These people, know as refugees, came to the United States in search of a better life. The majority of those thar came to Florida settled in the historical subdivision of Miami called Lemon City, now also referred to as " Little Haiti".
Among the earliest Haitian Families that came to Lemon City in the mid 1960's include: Nassar, Jean-Louis, Joseph and Daniel families. Other early settlers Armand, Exulien, Charles, Cantave, Fleurizard, Monestime and Jean-Pierre.
In 1974, Mr Viter Juste, one of the area's pioneers and businessmen, gave the name "Little Port-au-Prince" to the area. It was changed shortly after that to "Little Haiti" by a newspaper reporter.
Many new immigrants had many difficulties at first and they didn't have many people to help them. Most of those that survived the rough journey at sea were sick, tired and hungry. In addition, most of them were faced with a new language and culture.
From 1965 to 1974 there were no Haitian organizations. On february 8, 1975 the first Haitian organization-Haitian American Community Association of Dade (H.A.C.A.D.)- was formed.
Among the Haitian community leaders who helped their fellow Haitians in the early days include: Reverand Jacques Montpremier, Reverand and Mrs Jean L. Louissaint and Sister Pierre Marie Armand. Many of these people took the new arrivals to their home or to their church and provided them with a temporary place to stay, food, care and medical attention.
Father Wenski ( now Bishop Wenski ) spent about 18 years in Miami helping the haitian community through the Archidiocese of Greater Miami. He spent most of his time at Notre Dame d'haiti Catholic Church, very imporant friends of the Haitian Community in the early days.
Among the many activists thar fought for equal treatment and equal rights for Haitians include: Father Gerard Jean- Juste , Jean Claude Exulien, Claude Charles, Arthur papillon, Abel Jean Simon and Rulx Jean-Bart.
There were many demonstrations, especially on 54th street, where people came to support the Haitian cause.
Among the African Americans that reached out to help the Haitians included: Reverend James E. Jenkins of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, and Ray Fontroy.
Reverend Jenkins let many refugees stay at his church and also provided them with meals. One of the first organizations to helpwas Catholic Service Bureau.
Other non-Haitians that had an impact on the haitian settlement in Miami include: Ira Golobin, Irwin Stotzky, Jack Lieberman, Eleanor Ginsberg, Rabbi Kingsly, Len Kaminsky, Rabbi Schiff, Ira Kurzban, and Cheryl Little.
The first haitian dentist in the Little Haiti was Dr Franklin Casthely. his daughter, Dr Lucie Casthely, is an orthodontist and practices next door.
Some early Haitian doctors include: Dr Cadet, Dr Bayas, Dr Hall, Dr Poliard and Dr. Michel Dodard.
Among the first Haitian business in Little Haiti were Air Tap Tap, L & P Express, Sylvia Beauty Salon, Les cousins Books and Records, Vertieres Restaurant and Neptune Restaurant.
The oldest building in Little haiti is the Dupuis building, located at 6045 NE 2nd Avenue, built in 1902. This used to be the office of Doctor DuPuis. He lived upstairs and prepared his medications downstairs. After that, it became the Lemon City Post Office wich has since closed.
Another very old building is the "Villa Paula", located at 5811 North Miami Avenue. It used to be the Cuban consulate, built in 1926 and is now the office of a fashion designer.
Miami-Edison Middle School, located at NW 2nd Avenue and 62nd Street, was built in 1928 as Miami Edison High School. the auditorium is one of the best examples of Art Deco in Miami-Dade County. Lemon City Agricultural High School ( (1915), the second high school in Miami Dade County, was formerly located on that site.