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Jacques Roumain

A critical figure in Haitian literature, Jacques Roumain was born in 1907 to a venerable Haitian family. Educated in Port-au-Prince and later in Europe, he then returned to a Haiti under American Occupation. Roumain joined other young intellectuals in a resistance movement against the occupation, which was instrumental in ending it.

Roumain and his compatriots were also avid promoters of Haitian culture and literature, and he emerged as a leader of the Indigenous Movement, which expressed the idea that rural Haitian peasant life should be considered the real basis of Haitian culture. Roumain thus incorporated these realities into his writing.

Roumain also founded the Haitian Communist Party in 1934 and was considered subversive by the President of Haiti at the time, Stenio Vincent. Roumain was imprisoned and later exiled from the country. It was during this time that he traveled to the U.S. and met the writers of the Harlem Renaissance, thus beginning his association with Langston Hughes.

In 1941, the newly elected President of Haiti allowed Roumain to return to the country. Shortly after, Roumain established the Bureau d' Ethnologie as an institution to validate the culture of the Haitian peasant, as well as Haiti's significant pre-colonial history.

Roumain died in 1944 of unknown causes at the young age of 37.