IRVINGTON, NJ — Joseph Saintil, owner of Jacob’s Taxi company on Central Avenue in East Orange, was honored for his dedication to the Haitian-American community in New Jersey on Saturday, May 26, at Irvington’s Haitian flag-raising celebration, organized and sponsored by at large Councilwoman Charnette Frederic’s Civic Association and the Ring the Bell for the Community nonprofit organization.
“When it comes to the situation of the people back on the island, I could feel their pain,” said Saintil on Saturday, May 26. “To all the good people in the world somewhere: remember Haiti. Haiti is not only great, Haiti has great people. We are the sons of Toussaint L’Overture, Dessalines. We have the first black independence in the world. We stood up and ended slavery. We stood up and gave help to people in South America, Venezuela and ended slavery. We sent people to fight in Georgia for the United States.”
Saintil was overflowing with Haitian pride at the flag-raising event, and called on all people of color in America, regardless of national origin, to unite to continue making a positive impact on their adopted country.
L’Overture and Jean-Jacques Dessalines were two Haitian heroes in revolt against France that ended slavery in the former French colony on the Caribbean island. The colony had imported Africans to work as slave labor on plantations for the benefit of the European economy.
“I give the hope to my brothers. Love every day and dream, dream, dream,” Saintil said at the event.
Frederic said anyone who wondered why Ring the Bell had honored Saintil should have listened to his award acceptance speech, because it would have removed any doubts.
“Now we see why we choose the hero who was born on May 18, the Flag Day of Haiti,” said Frederic on Saturday, May 26. “We thank you for the heart, because we have Toussaint L’Overture, we have Dessalines right now with us. Thank you so much.”
Orange at large Councilwoman Donna K. Williams also came out to participate in the Irvington Haitian flag-raising celebration and said she was surprised and happy to learn Saintil was an honoree.
“There’s not much more to say,” said Williams on Saturday, May 26. “Jacob’s Taxi is a part of the fabric of Orange. Jacob’s has probably been around as long as I’ve been an adult, so you’ve been around for some time now. I probably remember the number for your cab … So thank you for that testimony and thank you for the words.”
FamiCare founder Thecy Faustin echoed Saintil and Williams’ sentiments and offered a few words of her own to celebrate this year’s celebration.
“I’m very happy that I started this thing 20 years ago and it’s still going strong today,” said Faustin, who participated in this year’s flag-raising event and even provided the historic costumes and traditional dresses worn that day by young Haitian Americans, on Tuesday, May 29. “I’m hoping that it will continue to go on for years come. Irvington was like one of the first places to recognize the Haitian flag and its history. For any elected official to recognize that and allow it to happen, I’m very glad for that. I was also surprised and glad that Freeholder Lebby Jones came out for this year’s flag-raising event. She didn’t have to do that, but I appreciate her coming out very much. ”