Haitian Migration and Community-Building in Southeastern Michigan, 1966–1998
During the latter decades of the twentieth century, Haitians in southeastern Michigan constituted a small but consciously active element of the Haitian diaspora. At the time of my fi eldwork, an estimated 753 Haitian-born and 3,459 second-generation Haitians resided in Michigan.1 This chapter focuses on the most visible of these Haitians, residents of the state’s southeastern cities of Detroit, Grand Rapids and Lansing. Oral interviews conducted in July and August 1998 with forty Haitians and evidence in the records of community organizations from the three study cities reveal that these members of the Haitian diaspora proudly acknowledged the Haitian roots of their life stories and continuously sought to preserve elements of Haitian culture in their daily lives. 2 For many individuals, that lifestyle served to reinforce their sense of attachment to Haiti. The testimonies of Haitians residing in southeastern Michigan contribute to our understanding of how the process of dispersal from Haiti to less-traditional U.S. cities took place after 1965.