Group promotes cultural, historical tourism to help develop nation
PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti (FinalCall.com) – The Haiti Support Project (HSP), under the leadership of Dr. Ron Daniels, embarked on the Third Pilgrimage to Haiti October 8-12, visiting the magnificent Citadel and other important cultural and historical sites.
The delegation met with President RÃ©ne PrÃ©val before departing the country. The October 12 meeting was held at the presidential palace where discussions included partnerships to promote economic and social development in Haiti. This year’s delegation of 43 participants largely consisted of educators, cultural artists, entrepreneurs, business and professionals, heads of community-based organizations, community activists and opinion leaders.
According to Dr. Daniels, a major goal of the pilgrimage is to combat negative images of Haiti generated by “unsympathetic media in the U.S. by providing an opportunity for the participants to meet Haiti’s people and experience the culture firsthand.” The delegation included Rep. Greg Meeks of New York, nationally syndicated radio talk show host Warren Ballentine, and Richard Muhammad, editor-in-chief of The Final Call Newspaper.
In 2006, the Haiti Support Project launched the Model City Initiative in Milot, a small town that sits at the foot of the Citadel and Sans Souci Palace, to promote cultural/historical tourism. In launching the Initiative Dr. Daniels said, “cultural/historical tourism should be the foundation for people based on economic development in Milot and the northern region of Haiti. We believe that every person of African descent and friend of Haiti should visit the Citadel at least once in a lifetime.”
Accordingly, one of the highlights of Pilgrimage III was the visit to the Citadel by Congressman Meeks, chairman of the Subcommittee on International Monetary Policy and Trade. Clearly excited about the Congressman’s participation in the delegation, Dr. Daniels commented that “the image of a member of the Congressional Black Caucus standing atop the Citadel will send an unmistakable signal to Black America and the world that Haiti is safe for tourism and open for business.”
Other special guests on the Pilgrimage included Kangol Kid, the first Haitian-American hip hop artist and original member of U.T.F.O. Born in Brooklyn of Haitian parents, Kangol Kid made his first visit to Haiti since he was 11 years old; George Fraser, president, FraserNet, Inc., the largest network of Black professionals in the world with more than 50,000 members, many of whom are business people who might be attracted to investing in Haiti; Joseph Beasley, IBW/HSP’s “Global Ambassador,” who is regional coordinator of Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow/Push Coalition. Mr. Beasley was part of HSP’s very first delegation to Haiti in 1995.
In addition to visiting the Citadel, the delegation met with Ministers of Government, local officials in Milot and business and civic leaders. Ultimately, Dr. Daniels envisions the participants in the Pilgrimage returning to the U.S. as “Ambassadors of Hope for Haiti.”