The Queens, Empresses, and First Ladies of Haiti

Moderated by Marleine Bastien, executive director of FANM, and MJ Fievre, author of Badass Black Girl. Presented in Haitian Creole with English subtitles. English transcription available for non-Creole speakers The […]


The Queens, Empresses, and First Ladies of Haiti

Authors:M.J. Fievre , Marleine Bastien, Bayyinah Bello


Moderated by Marleine Bastien, executive director of FANM, and MJ Fievre, author of Badass Black Girl.

Presented in Haitian Creole with English subtitles.

English transcription available for non-Creole speakers

The history of Haiti includes many notable queens and empresses, such as Marie Claire Heureuse Félicité Bonheur, the wife of Haitian general Jean Jacques Dessalines; Marie Louise Coidavid, the wife of King Henry Christophe; and Adelina Soulouque, the wife of President Soulouque. Haiti’s first ladies, such as Suzanne Simone Baptiste, the wife of Toussaint Louverture, leader of the Haitian revolution; Lucienne Heurtelou, the wife of President Dumarsais Estimé; Yolette Leconte, the wife of President Paul Eugene Magloire; and Michele Bennet, the wife of Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier; and so many more also share a vibrant historical heritage. For the most part, however, the queens, empresses, and first ladies of Haiti have remained in the shadows. In this panel, Bayyinah Bello, author of SHEROES of the Haitian Revolution, will explore the accomplishments and the considerable political power of these women

Sponsored by

and in partnership with

M.J. Fievre

M.J. Fievre was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and moved to the United States in 2002. M.J.’s publishing career began as a teenager in Haiti with the Young Adult book La Statuette Maléfique. Since then, M.J. has authored nine books in French that are widely read in Europe and the French Antilles. Her titles include I Am Riding, her first children’s book, written in English, French, and Haitian Creole; A Sky the Color of Chaos, a memoir; and Raising Confident Black Kids, Happy, Okay?: Poems about Anxiety, Depression, Hope, and Survival. She is also a long-time educator and frequent keynote speaker. In Badass Black Girl: Questions, Quotes, and Affirmations for Teens (Mango) M.J. explores the many facets of identity through a number of big and small questions including family and friends, school and careers, body image, and stereotypes in this journal designed for teenage girls. She calls for embracing authenticity and celebrating who you are, so here’s a journal designed to help readers nurture their creativity, self-motivation, and positive self-awareness. This journal celebrates girl power and honors the strength and spirit of black girls. It provides words of encouragement that seek not just to inspire, but to ignite discussion and debate about the world. Mary Cowper, in the Midwest Book Review, noted that “Finding the courage to live as you are is not easy, so Badass Black Girl is an ideal journal designed to help young girls to nurture their creativity, self-motivation, and positive self-awareness.”

Marleine Bastien

Marleine Bastien, a licensed clinical social worker, is the founder and Executive Director of Fanm Ayisyen Nan Miyami, Inc. (Haitian Women of Miami—FANM). The group has provided desperately needed assistance not only to Haitian women and their families, but to the community at large on an array of social services while also organizing around issues such as immigration, housing, health access, education reform, gender equality, and human rights. Bastien is the Chair of the Florida Immigration coalition and Vice-Chair of the Haitian-American Grassroots Coalition. She has worked on many important campaigns, including: The Haitian Immigration Refugee Fairness Act of 1998, Temporary Protected Status, The Dream Act, Comprehensive Immigration Reform, Living Wage and Human Rights Ordinance, and the Children’s Trust as treasurer and spokesperson for the Black Community with Congresswoman Carrie Meek.

Bayyinah Bello

Bayyinah Bello, is a Haitian historian, teacher, writer, activist and humanitarian worker. Educated in Haiti, France and the United States, her anthropological research took her to all West African countries as well as many East, North and Central African cities. Her professional career began in 1969 in the United States. She wrote her first children’s story in 1970 at the birth of her first-born son. She spent time in Nigeria, where she uncovered her passion for history in Arabic language, and this in time allowed her to explore other literary and historical visions. Back in the United States she worked as a publicist, teaching French in the evening. She returned to Haiti where she taught history at the State University of Haiti and founded a primary and secondary bilingual school aiming to aid young Haitians returning home to adapt and integrate the Haitian society. She is also a founding member and International Responsible at Fondation Marie Claire Heureuse Félicité Bonheur Dessalines (Fondasyon Felicite) and is dedicated to humanitarian, social and educational work. Bello is the author of Jean-Jacques Dessalines: 21 PWENKONNEN Sou Lavi Li  and Sheroes of the Haitian Revolution.

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