Leaders from the city’s African and Haitian communities condemned derogatory remarks made by president Donald Trump targeting their homelands.
Daniel Andre, president of the Haitian Civic Organization, described Trump as a “hateful man” for describing Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations as “shithole countries” in a White House meeting last Thursday.
“Since he has taken office, he has allowed hate to lead his administration. I stand and denounce this hateful man,” said Andre, who came from Haiti and has lived in Paterson for 25 years. “If you know anything about Haitians, you know, we’re not afraid of working hard. We will not bow our head no matter who seeks to degrade or pull us down. “
Andre described his compatriots as a proud and glorious people. His people defeated the great Napoleon Bonaparte’s army to secure their freedom and independence, he said. Haiti’s victory against the French forced Bonaparte to sell off the Louisiana territory to the United States. France may not have sold the territory had it not suffered a defeat at the hands of the Haitians, he said.
Andre was joined by Prince Adekoya II, a Nigerian, in denouncing the president’s remarks.
Adekoya, who arrived in the United States from Nigeria 17 years ago, described the comments as “hateful and disgusting.”
“Trump’s statement was a contradiction to everything this great country stands for,” said Adekoya. “We’re good, responsible, hardworking citizens, who seek to fulfill the promise of the American dream.”
Both men spoke at Tuesday night’s city council meeting, the first public meeting to take place after Trump’s comments.
Some council members joined both men to register their displeasure at Trump’s remarks.
“I’m glad the community is standing up and saying no to hate. Only light can drive out darkness. We have to hold up a torch to say not in Paterson and not in the America that we celebrate,” said William McKoy, 3rd Ward councilman.
“Not everyone in this country shares the sentiment of the president,” said Michael Jackson, 1st Ward councilman, reassuring Andre.
“Daniel, when they talk about you, they talk about all us,” said council president Ruby Cotton. “We stand with you.”
The city’s Haitian community is made up of approximately 1,400 people, said Andre. While, there’s roughly 800 Nigerians who call the city home, said Adekoya.
Both men described their communities as hardworking and part of the kaleidoscopic fabric of America.