Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Berkeley 1994

Jean-Bertrand Aristide and Gus Schultz, reception at First Congregational Church in Berkeley, 1994
During my dialogue with the GTU community, I recounted the story of my meeting with a group of students in Haiti a month before the December 1990 elections. In that meeting, the students and I talked about the harsh realities that the nation was facing--an 85% illiteracy rate, a repressive military that consumes 45% of the national budget, an economy that benefits only the elite. As we spoke, one student , drawing an analogy to water, asked a profound question about the future of the country: "Can one single drop of fresh water change an entire glass of salt water?" I answered with two questions: "How many drops of water does it take to make rain? How many rivers does it take to cause a flood?"

The answer to both questions is "many."

Letter to Dr. Glenn R. Bucher from Jean-Bertrand Aristide, May 4, 1994

Haiti's problems have always seemed to be nearly insurmountable. The January 12 earthquake resulted in a staggering lost of life (approaching 300,000 by one count) and of support structures.

Michael Deibert writes today in the Chronicle of Higher Education about the destruction of the university facilities in Port-au-Prince and the loss of many students and professors. Among the intellectual leaders who died were Micha Gaillard, a university professor and political activist; Myriam Merlet, founder of Enfofamn; lawyer Magalie Marcelin, who established Kay Fanm (Woman's House); and Anne Marie Coriolan, who founded the group Solidarité Fanm Ayisyen (Solidarity With Haitian Women).

For those who have yet to send donations to support aid to Haiti, a few agencies are suggested at the GTU site.

We recently updated the finding aid for the National Sanctuary Defense Fund (NSDF) Collection in order to post it to Online Archives of California. While much of the NSDF efforts were initially to help refugees and those who were arrested for helping refugees from Central America, by the nineties the fund had broadened to include most immigrant populations into the US.

Haiti received particular attention due to the forced removal by military of the former priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who had been elected as president, resulting in persecution of proponents of democracy and US issues with refugees.

GTU invited Aristide to speak at the First Congregation Church in Berkeley on April 17, 1994. The City of Berkeley declared that Sunday, Haitian National Day. The NSDF sponsored the reception to raise money to support Haitians affected by the military actions. Above, Gus Schultz, minister at University Lutheran Church, and board president of the NSDF, welcomes the deposed president. Aristide spoke later that week at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco and at Stanford.

For more information on the National Sanctuary Defense Fund (NSDF) Collection please contact the GTU archives at archives@gtu.edu or call 510-649-2507 or 2523. A few images and documents from the collection are at our digital content site. The archives also has several other sanctuary related collections: The Gustav Schultz Sanctuary Collection, 1971 – 1996 and Sanctuary Oral History Movement Collection.