WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — South Florida has a vibrant and thriving Haitian population, and the month of May is Haitian Heritage Month. It's a chance to showcase the rich traditions and culture of a group of people living in South Florida.
"I'm one of five, so four of us were born in Haiti," Yanatha Desouvre said. "The youngest sibling was born here in the United States."
Desouvre is living the American dream. But, like many immigrants, he's held onto his distinct heritage, that of being Haitian.
"It was tough because of a whole new world," he said. "My mom and my dad were doing fine in Haiti, but we had to start all over."
According to the 2018 U.S. Census, there were more than 1 million Haitian Americans living in the U.S. The state with the largest Haitian population was Florida, with just over 400,000.
Haitian Heritage Month is an observance that's recognized by the city of West Palm Beach to Palm Beach County schools.
"I want people to see it as an opportunity to celebrate a culture that's not far from South Florida, that's embedded in South Florida," Desouvre said.
Then it's fitting to touch on the short film "The Sweetest Girl." It's a love story set in Haiti that Desourvre wrote and fellow Haitian composer Daniel Bartley Jr. created the score.
Bartley said embracing his heritage has influenced his art.
"As Haitian people, we have a lot we've contributed, that we contribute and will continue to contribute well into the future," he said.
Both men said there's a celebration in a Haitian household every day. Desouvre said Haitian Heritage Month is a point in time to reminisce but also a chance to enlighten.
"I also feel the responsibility for the next generation to tell them that, yes, now as Haitian Americans, we're doing some amazing things, but there's more to come," Desouvre said.