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From Douglass to Duvalier

U.S. African Americans, Haiti, and Pan Americanism, 1870–1964

Millery Polyné

Publication Year: 2010

Haiti has long been both a source of immense pride--because of the Haitian Revolution--and of profound disappointment--because of the unshakable realities of poverty, political instability, and violence--to the black diasporic imagination. Charting the long history of these multiple meanings is the focus of Millery Polyne's rich and critical transnational history of U.S. African Americans and Haitians.

Stretching from the thoughts and words of American intellectuals such as Frederick Douglass, Robert Moton, and Claude Barnett to the Civil Rights era, Polyne's temporal scope is breathtaking. But just as impressive is the thematic range of the work, which carefully examines the political, economic, and cultural relations between U.S. African Americans and Haitians.

From Douglass to Duvalier examines the creative and critical ways U.S. African Americans and Haitians engaged the idealized tenets of Pan Americanism--mutual cooperation, egalitarianism, and nonintervention between nation-states--in order to strengthen Haiti's social, economic, and political growth and stability. The depth of Polyne's research allows him to speak confidently about the convoluted ways that these groups have viewed modernization, "uplift," and racial unity, as well as the shifting meanings and importance of the concepts over time.

Published by: University Press of Florida

Title Page, Series Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xiv

I am in complete awe as I type my acknowledgments. My friend, cousin and colleague Harley F. Etienne and I often go back and forth about how “this” happened. We are two Haitian American kids from Mattapan, a largely working-class U.S. African American and Caribbean neighborhood that borders Milton, Massachusetts, ...

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Note on Usage and Terminology

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pp. xv-xvi

In this book I employ the terms “U.S. African American(s)” and “U.S. black(s)” interchangeably to refer to U.S. black citizens in the United States. Moreover, the use of the term “African American” in this monograph encompasses African-descended peoples throughout the Americas (North and South America and the Caribbean). ...

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pp. 1-24

Minutes before sunrise on February 29, 2004, in Tabarre, a suburb of Portau- Prince, Haiti, U.S. diplomat Luis G. Moreno and several diplomatic and military officials arrived at Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s residence. According to Moreno, his presence there at daybreak demonstrated that Aristide’s administration and U.S. forces in Haiti ...

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1. “The Spirit of the Age . . . Establish[es] a Sentiment of Universal Brotherhood”: Haiti, “Santo Domingo” and Frederick Douglass at the Intersection of the United States and Black Pan Americanism

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pp. 25-55

After the bloody and transformative events of the U.S. Civil War (1861– 1865), when the emancipation of enslaved U.S. blacks and the preservation of the federal government raised a relative sense of optimism for U.S. African Americans and the nation, Washington officials were optimistic about the possibilities of expanding their realm of influence and power. ...

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2. “To Combine the Training of the Head and the Hands”: The 1930 Robert R. Moton Education Commission in Haiti

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pp. 56-88

When he addressed a distinguished group of U.S. African American educators and journalists in Port-au-Prince at the beginning of the hurricane season of July 1930, Louis C. L’hérisson believed he held the keys to improve the nation’s deteriorating education infrastructure. Possessing more than 45 years of public service as a teacher, ...

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3. “We Cast in Our Lot with the Policy of Good Neighborliness”: Claude Barnett, Haiti and the Business of Race

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pp. 89-130

By 1934, U.S. military occupation in Haiti had ended, and Haitians and U.S. African Americans seemed hopeful of the black republic’s future. In April that year, Haitian president Sténio Vincent paid a special visit to several sites in Harlem while on a goodwill trip to the United States to discuss with President Franklin Roosevelt the future of Haiti/U.S. relations. ...

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4. “What Happens in Haiti Has Repercussions Which Far Transcend Haiti Itself ”: Walter White, Haiti and the Public Relations Campaign, 1947–1955

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pp. 131-153

On September 20, 1947, NAACP Executive Secretary Walter White wrote to Joseph D. Charles, Haitian ambassador to the United States, outlining his recommendations to transform Haiti’s public image. According to White’s memorandum, U.S. perceptions of Haiti as a “poverty-stricken, illiterate, hopelessly backward country ...

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5. “To Carry the Dance of the People Beyond”: Jean-Léon Destiné, Lavinia Williams and Danse Folklorique Haïtienne

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pp. 154-179

Developing effective cultural relations proved to be an important element in the Pan American project. U.S. African Americans, Caribbeans, Latinos and a few U.S. government officials understood that building and improving cultural programs and promoting the exchange of ideas (economic, technical and artistic) ...

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6. “The Moody Republic and the Men in Her Life”: François Duvalier, U.S. African Americans and Haitian Exiles, 1957–1964

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pp. 180-208

Camille L’hérisson was vexed. The former secretary of state of public health and education under Paul Magloire’s administration and a current political exile residing in New York City, L’hérisson voiced his great displeasure in the New York Age regarding the Friends of Haiti, ...


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pp. 209-244


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pp. 245-268


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pp. 269-292

E-ISBN-13: 9780813040196
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813037639
Print-ISBN-10: 0813037638

Page Count: 296
Illustrations: 5 illustrations
Publication Year: 2010