Franck Étienne

Haiti is a beautiful Caribbean country with a long, rich history – but can you name even a handful of famous Haitians?

Check out these five famous Haitians who’ve each had a positive impact on the country and the world in their own individual ways. From artists to politicians, sports stars to musicians, these famous Haitians are making their mark.

Wyclef Jean

This Grammy Award-winning artist was born in Haiti and moved to the United States at the age of 9. He’s a member of the hip hop group The Fugees. Jean has been active in Haitian affairs for a long time. He even filed to run for president of Haiti in 2010, though he didn’t meet the requirements. He contributed extensively to earthquake relief efforts following the devastating earthquake of 2010.

Franck Étienne

Étienne is known by his professional name Frankétienne and is one of Haiti’s leading artists. He’s conquered the worlds of writing, poetry, theatre, painting, music, and more. Sometimes called “the father of Haitian letters,” he’s been a candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature and was a UNESCO Artist for Peace in 2010. Étienne rose from humble beginnings, raised by his mother in Port-au-Prince.

Garcelle Beauvais

Beauvais is a Haitian-American actress and model who lived in Saint-Marc, Haiti before moving to the United States with her family. She began her modeling career at age 17, modeling for many well-known brands before starting her acting career. She’s appeared in many popular television shows, notable films, and even music videos. She launched a children’s jewelry line 10 years ago and has written a children’s book about diversity and race.

Jeanne Duval

Duval was a Haitian actress born around 1820. As a young adult, she traveled to France, where she joined the arts community and became muse to French poet Charles Baudelaire. She stayed with Baudelaire for the next 20 years and you can still find French poems and paintings featuring Duval. She lived an extravagant life and even today appears in modern artwork by artists from all over the world.

Jacques Roumain

Roumain was a Haitian writer, politician, and avid Marxist, living in the first half of the 20th century. His largest followings are in Europe and Latin America where his work has been widely read. Langston Hughes translated some of Roumain’s greatest works, which often feature important details about Haitian life and culture.

One of his most famous quotes specifically touches on Haitian daily life, poverty, and education. From “Masters of the Dew,” it reads:

“What are we? Since that’s your question, I’m going to answer you. We’re this country, and it wouldn’t be a thing without us, nothing at all. Who does the planting? Who does the watering? Who does the harvesting? Coffee, cotton, rice, sugar cane, caco, corn, bananas, vegetables, and all the fruits. Who’s going to grow them if we don’t? Yet with all that, we’re poor, that’s true. We’re out of luck, that’s true. We’re miserable, that’s true. But do you know why, brother? Because of our ignorance.”

Roumain highlights the Haitian connection between a low education level and poverty. This is exactly the connection that Restavek Freedom hopes to break. The restavek system results in a lack of education that leads to a cycle of poverty when a child becomes an adult.

Restavek Freedom seeks to help these underprivileged and overlooked children from a life of poverty and few options for the future. Find out more about Restavek Freedom here and help us encourage the next generation of world-changing Haitians.