Jacques Roumain was a famous Haitian writer, poet and politician. One of the most prominent figures in Haitian literature; his works have achieved international acclaimed across the Caribbean, Europe and Latin America, making him one of the most influential black writers in his time.
Jacques Roumain was born in Port-au-Prince on June 4th of 1907. The son of a wealthy Haitian family. His grand father Tancrède Auguste, was president of Haiti from 1912 to 1913. Jacques Roumain received his primary education in a catholic school in Port-au-Prince, but was later sent to Belgium, Switzerland, France, Germany and Spain to further his studies.
Upon his return to Haiti after the completion of his academic studies, Jacques Roumain founded La Revue Indigéne: Les Arts et La Vie ( The indigenious Review: Arts and Life), under which he published numerous books, including La Montagne ensorcelée (1931).
In response to the American Occupation of Haiti since 1915, Jacques Roumain founded in 1934, the Haitian Communist Party, partly inspired by the Marxist ideology.
His open criticisms of the American occupation and his political activities have garnered strong reactions from the Haitian government; he was thrown in jail for three years, then sent into exile by then Haitian president Sténiot Vincent.
During his exile from Haiti, Roumain traveled widely in Europe. He began to study anthropology at the Sorbonne in Paris in order to acquire the necessary trainings to pursue his interest in peasant culture.
At the outbreak of the second World War, Jacques Roumain left France for the United States. During his times in the United States, Jacques Roumain conducted many research at Columbia University after which he went on to publish Griefs de l'homme noir, (griefs of the black man) a Marxist analysis of the Black American in the Southern United States.
In 1941, the newly elected president of Haiti, Elie Lescot, permitted Roumain to return to Haiti. Immediately on his return to Haiti, Roumain founded the Bureau d'Ethnologie in effort to legitimize the study of Haiti's peasantry.
in 1943, Jacques Roumain was appointed chargé d'affaires at the Haitian embassy in Mexico.
It was this position in Mexico, that gave the young Jacques Roumain time to devote himself to creative writings.
After a year in Mexico, Roumain published one his most influential and literary acclaimed books: Gouverneurs de la Rosée (Masters of the Dew). Below is a passage from the aforementioned book:
"What are we? Since that's your question, I'm going to answer you. We're this country, and it wouldn't be a thing without us, nothing at all. Who does the planting? Who does the watering? Who does the harvesting? Coffee, cotton, rice, sugar cane, cacao, corn bananas, vegetables, and all the fruits, who's going to grow them if we don't. Yet with all that, we're poor, that's true. We're out of luck, that's true. We're miserable, that's true. But do yo know why brother? Because of our ignorance. We don't know yet what a force we are, what a single force- all the peasants, all the Negroes of the plain and hill, all united. Some day, when we get wise so that, we'll rise up from one end of the country to the other. Then we'll call a General Assembly of the Masters of the Dew, a great big coumbite of farmers and we'll clear out poverty and plant a new life."
On August, 18, 1944, Jacques Roumain died at the age of 37 from unknown health complications.