By Helen Penland
The City of Miramar held a celebration of the Haitian heritage with Haitian Flag Day on Thursday, May 18th. Hosted by Mayor Wayne Messam, Commissioner Darline B. Riggs, and Haitian Consul General Gandy Thomas, the affair was a resounding success! The venue for the event was the lovely Cultural Arts Center.
Mayor Messam initiated Haitian Flag Day to recognize the many contributions by the Haitian community to the City of Miramar and surrounding areas. In addition to sharing its singular cuisine, the Haitian society provides our area with several other benefits. One of the most important contributions is arranging, preparing, and administering missions to Haiti to assist the country and its residents. Medical assistance is a large part of that effort. Of course, while in Haiti, the participants take some time to enjoy the natural beauty of the country.
This day was set aside to highlight not only the cuisine, but to recognize individual and group contributors to the city and bring the community together. There were approximately 800 attendees to the several events held throughout the day.
Perhaps the favorite event of all was the concert held by Emeline Michel, the internationally renowned “Queen of Haitian Soul!” Having a relationship with Miramar through the Mayor’s office, she accepted the invitation to perform at the Haitian Flag Day concert. The evening concert was opened by Master of Ceremonies, hip-hop artist Mecca Aka Grimo, who recited a poem in observance of the day. Ms. Michel and her musical group performed many of her well-known pieces, from love songs to patriotic music, engaging the entire audience. The attendees sang along, danced, and clapped during the concert. She even had the people on their feet and invited fans to accompany her on stage to dance with her!
For those who do not know her background, Emeline Michel began sharing her beautiful voice in a gospel choir in her native Haiti. Subsequent to her studies at the Detroit Jazz Center she returned to her native country and her career bloomed. Now based in New York, she is an affirmed Red Cross Ambassador, and a strong voice for issues regarding women and children across the world. One of her primary goals is to share her message with her international audience. She’s made appearances at many prestigious venues including international jazz festivals, The United Nations Carnegie Hall, and Zimbabwe’s Harare International Arts Festival.