Haiti Flag week is an annual series that brings to the UCSB campus a scholar, an activist, and an artist who work in/on Haiti and raise awareness about Haiti’s history and culture as well as the contemporary struggles the country faces. The series was created in 2007 by Professor Nadège T. Clitandre, then a dissertation fellow in the Department of Black Studies and currently a research affiliate at the Center for Black Studies Research. The series was inaugurated in 2008 with a talk given by Dr. Clitandre titled "The Position of Haiti in the African Diaspora."
Offering an intellectually and culturally stimulating lineup of events for students, faculty, staff, and community members, the Haiti Flag Week Series, which occurs every year during the week of May 18 (Haiti Flag Day), promotes knowledge about Haiti, its significant place in global history, its position as a beacon of freedom in the Black diaspora, and its connection to the United States.
Haitianists (scholars of Haitian Studies) such as Mark Schuller, Marlène Daut, and Manoucheka Celeste have given thought-provoking talks. In addition to scholarly presentations, Haiti Flag week contributes to UCSB’s diversity and cultural enrichment initiatives by introducing students to the varied experiences of large established diasporic communities in American cities such as Boston, Miami, New York City, and Los Angeles through the screening of documentaries and films.
The series also offers students and the community at large opportunities to discover Haiti’s culture through the lens of contemporary artists. For example, in 2010, feminist scholar Gina Athena Ulysse performed her one-woman piece “Because When God Is Too Busy,” and in 2016 singer-songwriter, producer, and guitarist Paul Beaubrun, who comes from a well-known family of artists, gave a solo performance to an excited group of students.
Through presentations by activists, students are inspired to engage in social justice issues that impact Haitian communities both in Haiti and in the United States. Activists who have participated in the series in the past include journalist Anne-christine d’Adesky, whose involvement in the Global AIDS activism movement in the 90s is notable, and Beverly Bell, an organizer and founder of more than a dozen international and social justice organizations.
In 2016, during the ninth year of the series, the Center for Black Studies Research joined forces with Sakpase California, Cali Haitians, and the Haitian community of Los Angeles to co-sponsor an event in Los Angeles highlighting the contributions of members of the Haitian community in LA. In 2017, Haiti Flag Week co-sponsored a culture night in Redlands that honored the individuals, organizations, and civil society groups supporting the thousands of refugees traveling from Brazil that began arriving in Tijuana, Mexico, in search of asylum. This event, which included an audience of over 200 people, was made possible by collaboration with Sak Pase California and the Haitian community of Los Angeles. This partnership with Sakpase California gives the Haitian community in LA an opportunity to learn more about the Center’s activities here at UCSB; it offers the center more opportunities for community engagement.
All events in the Haiti Flag Week series are free and open to the public.