On March 28, 2007, 102 Haitian people seeking refuge from political persecution, starvation and death, neared the shores of Hallandale Beach, Florida. Along with the adults, there were also children on Board this craft from the impoverished island of Haiti, which was out to Sea for 22 days. While nearing the shore within walking distance of reaching land, a 23 year old boy drowned as the remaining 101 reached land.
The refugees were taken to the Broward Transitional Center where they were held for processing. After passing the “Credible Fear” interview, instead of being released to their friends and family, were sent back to Haiti or are still held in Detention Centers.
Why weren’t they afforded the same rights as others who have come before and even after them? Could it be because of the color of their skin?
Henry Petithomme, the Founder of Youth Power Movement was compelled to take action due to the magnitude of the injustice and the double standard that the Haitian people suffered. Henry Petithomme who is a US Veteran of Haitian descent, began a Hunger Strike that lasted for 15 days and nights to protest the unfair treatment which set off the chain of events that would give rise to Y.P.M.
The fast was followed by a March for Freedom. On April 15, Henry and dozens of other people of conscience walked 28 miles from the beach where the refugees first landed to the Detention Center where they were being incarcerated. This symbolized how little the US government had accomplished in the intervening weeks. The march was followed by a Humanitarian Fast by participants from a variety of ethnic backgrounds who fasted for 12 hours in Toussaint’s Park in Miami, Florida. Throughout the event, members from the community dropped off donations of clothing and sundries which were presented to the Broward Detention Center in an effort to improve the living conditions of the refugees.
That is when Henry realized that the only way to make a difference in the lives of those that are less fortunate, is to educate and empower the youth. There are many disenfranchised youth that if given the chance and the proper tools, can make a difference in their lives and in their communities.
This is where the concept of the Youth Power Movement began- “Less Talk- More Action.”