An n’ Pale | Café Conversation with Michele Montas-Dominique – by Lashawn Garnes

Michele montas

As the bright lights dim low, graciously enters Michele Montas-Dominique, a well respected Haitian journalist with a long and impactful legacy centered around the need for transparency in journalism. Madame Montas-Dominique makes her way to the front of the room as the crowd take their seats. Accompanying Madame Montas Dominique is Jocelyn McCalla, the moderator for this addition of Haiti Cultural Exchange’s An n’ Pale| Café Conversation series, welcomes Michele Montas Dominique to discuss the importance of free speech and the role of journalism in Haiti.

Madame Montas-Dominique started the conversation by reminiscing about Haiti as the audience wanted to know more about her work at Radio Haiti Inter.  She began by highlighting the uniqueness of Radio Haiti and how it was the first independent radio station in all of Haiti to broadcast entirely in Krèyol.  She reminded us that at that time, all radio and media outlets were published in French, yet the people were speaking Krèyol.  The use of the Krèyol language as the tool, in which the Haitian masses were able to receive and report local and international news with no filter, was viewed as a threat to the political and status quo order of the day.  Montas-Dominique wanted a station that was for the Haitian people, by the Haitian people.  And thus, Radio Haiti Inter was born.  Founded by her late husband Jean Dominique, Radio Haiti shed light on the political corruption during the period of the 1960’s through the year of 2003. The thick political and economic climate at this time brought about the assassination of Jean Dominique and her forced exile from Haiti.  Radio Haiti’s transparency in dissecting the politics, economic and cultural conduct can now be heard online for scholars, historians, students and anyone who has a passion for Haiti’s 20th century political climate.

“We were all dreaming out loud about changing things” said Montas-Dominique.

The influence of Radio Haiti was important because people became more involved in what was going on within their country.  She remembers times when there were protests happening right on the street in front of her house, and having to go through barricades and angry Haitians to make it to their station in order to report what was happening.  The Haitian people were supportive of Radio Haiti and gave them the utmost respect.

Before Madame Montas Dominique exile, she took meticulous care in preserving and safeguarding the program recordings broadcasted on Radio Haiti Inter. Now, she has partnered with the Human Rights Archive at Duke University’s David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library in providing digitized audio recordings that showcases Haitian society, culture and politics during her and her late husband’s reign.

One question that resonated with the crowd was about how the Haitian Diaspora could get more involved with what was going on in Haiti.  Montas-Dominique reminds us that the by knowing how powerful our voice is and sharing our stories and history through media, is one of the best ways to get involved.  Sharing our experiences and our families experiences can help negate the negative connotations that surround Haiti and the Diaspora.

We thank Michele Montas-Dominique and Jocelyn McCalla for coming out to speak on this cold January day, and thank everyone who came.  HCX appreciates the support and hope to see you at the next An n’ Pale | Cafe Conversation with Daniel Bernard Roumain on Friday, February 20th.

Visit radiohaitilives.com for more information on Michele’s projects.

Click here to view photos from the event!

This An n’ Pale took place on January 29th, 2014.

This entry was posted on Sunday, February 1st, 2015 at 6:25 pm and is filed under An n' Pale, Archive, Events, HCX Programs, Literature. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.