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Passion, Pride Flourish in Miami's Little Haiti

  • Alex Villarreal

Little Havana is a well known neighborhood in Miami, Florida. But Cubans are not the only immigrants with an area of the city all their own.

A walk through one Miami neighborhood, could leave you thinking you're in another country.

"Little Haiti," is one of the largest Haitian enclaves outside the Caribbean nation. In this neighborhood, residents speak Creole, roosters roam freely and once a month, Haitians gather to celebrate and share their culture.

“It’s just like bringing a little piece of home here. I think it brings that island flavor to the middle of Miami, said Marie Vickles, visual arts coordinator at the Little Haiti Cultural Center in the heart of the neighborhood. The center partnered with a South Florida group, the Rhythm Foundation, to launch the Big Night in Little Haiti event.

The celebration features art, entertainment and food.

“It kind of reunites everybody, and I wish that more people knew about it,” said South Florida Jacques Deverson.

Getting more people to know about Little Haiti is a wish organizers share.

"I believe that Miami is more than the beach," said author David Brown.

Visitors join Brown, who wrote The Story of Little Haiti, for a walking tour.

“Little Haiti is a very special place," he noted. "Sometimes when I'm giving a tour, I feel like I'm in a watercolor painting.”

Helen Weiss often drives by the area, but she says this is her first time inside.

“I’m really so impressed with the beautiful coloring on the building and the people, and the museum is fabulous, and it’s just, it’s an unexpected delight,” Weiss said.

Activist Lucie Tondreau says honoring their heritage is also important for Haitians.

"We have our restaurants, we have our libraries, we have things to show that we are here. We have a background, we have a culture, we have an identity, and we are trying to give it also to our children," Tondreau said.

They also have the dance moves. With the help of a little Haitian music, Carolle Lassegue proudly shows off hers.

“They are my people, and I enjoy being with my friends,” Lassegue said.

And through Big Night, it seems the community has made some new friends, too.