Profile in Black History:
By Kandace Coleman
Wyclef Jean is a Haitian-American pop artist and a wonderful inspiration to the entire world. He is revered in Haiti as well as the United States for being a great musician, but more importantly a humanitarian and philanthropist. He is particularly special and influential for his life story and struggles facing many adversities. Jean's extraordinary musical talent has brought him not only financial wealth and fame but a sense of well being and togetherness with his loving people of Haiti. He was a member and lead MC of the biggest-selling rap group in history called The Fugees alongside band members Lauryn Hill, and Praz. Not to forget, he's a multi-platinum hit-making solo artist and producer for musical artists in many genres in the past and present day.
Throughout Jean`s entire career, he has never forgotten or been ashamed of where he came from. Coming to the United States at the adolescent age of 13 with his younger brother, sister, and religious foster parents, Jean did not speak a bit of English. He claims that "Basically, I learned English through listening to rap. A lot of people think it's funny. But it's true; I used to try to get the accents." Thus started his undying love for hip-hop and the connection between black America, Caribbean Americans, and Caribbean people (particularly Haitians). The environments that cultivated his character and ingenuity growing up , were his 3rd world native country Haiti, as well as the projects of Brooklyn and the rough streets of northern New Jersey.
In 2005, Jean started the now world renowned Yéle Haiti Foundation. This foundation is Jean`s biggest foundation to date. With in the first year of the organizations establishment, a company named Comcel provided scholarships to 3,600 children in Gonaives, Haiti, after the destruction caused by Hurricane Jeanne. In its second year of operation, it was almost doubling the amount of the scholarships and spreading them throughout Haiti, providing tuition in 5 regions. In May 2008, Yéle Haiti partnered with WFP (World Food Programme) of the United Nations to launch www.togetherforhaiti.org. And in later years, Jean and The Timberland Company joined forces to help raise environmental awareness in Haiti. This duo stated the the awareness "will be a multi-platform effort incorporating Timberland products, digital and social media, service events, music, and concerts that will promote environmental awareness." The Yéle foundation has been used is mass amount recently due to the treacherous earthquake that took place on on January 12, 2010 in Haiti.
So far, Jean has been extremely active in his support of his native country to provide humanitarian and financial aid to assist Haiti. He describes the Yéle foundation as a "non-political organization intended to empower the people of Haiti and the Haitian diaspora to rebuild their nation." Wyclef says that, "The objective of Yéle Haiti is to restore pride and a reason to hope, and for the whole country to regain the deep spirit and strength that is part of our heritage". His organizations have raised over 15 Million dollars since 2005 in order to help aid those in need in Haiti.
The next time you think of Wyclef Jean, think about the great work he has done over the span of 15+ years. He is a wonderful role model for people all over the globe, and teaching the young and old generations of today, the wonderful gift of giving. Being a man deeply rooted in his culture and being from Afro- Haitian decent, Jean has never looked past where he came from, nor how far he has come, but most importantly, he has remembered to give back to his struggling people. Somewhere in the world, he is molding the next Wyclef Jean and that my friend is his biggest and proudest accomplishment to date thus far.