‘Seeing Haitians as human beings.’ Herald’s Jacqueline Charles shares her experiences

Jacqueline Charles has been a witness to Haiti’s pain and triumphs. She has seen and reported on assassinations, earthquakes, hurricanes, culture, people, and now violent gangs trying to take over the country.

On Thursday night, the Miami Herald’s Haiti and Caribbean correspondent brought her expertise and experience to the South Florida community in a discussion at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center in Liberty City.

“An Evening with Jacqueline Charles,” sponsored by the Herald, celebrated Haitian Heritage Month and offered a behind-the-scenes view of her exclusive reporting on the country.

Kerby Altizor, 40, has heard Charles speak before, and he appreciates the depth of her work.

“It’s phenomenal,” Altizor said. “For the community to come here and support her, I think is wonderful.”

MORE: Read the work of Jacqueline Charles

Jacqueline Charles, Haiti/Caribbean Correspondent for the Miami Herald, right, speaks to the community during an interview with Jay Weaver, Miami Herald editor, left, about Haiti’s past and future during An Evening with Jacqueline Charles on Thursday, May 30, 2024, at African Heritage Cultural Arts in Miami.
Jacqueline Charles, Haiti/Caribbean Correspondent for the Miami Herald, right, speaks to the community during an interview with Jay Weaver, Miami Herald editor, left, about Haiti’s past and future during An Evening with Jacqueline Charles on Thursday, May 30, 2024, at African Heritage Cultural Arts in Miami.

Charles, a Pulitzer Prize finalist and Emmy Award winner, was honored by the turnout and the community’s eagerness to hear about what’s happening inside Haiti.

“What I found to be most enlightening about tonight is that you have people who came out who truly follow the coverage and want to find a solution to the Haitian crisis,” she said. “Sometimes as a reporter, you don’t know what kind of impact your coverage has.”

The two-hour discussion, moderated by Miami Herald federal courts reporter Jay Weaver, touched on the ins and outs of Haiti’s most historic events.

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Lenworth Anglin, center, asks Jacqueline Charles, Haiti/Caribbean Correspondent at the Miami Herald, a question during An Evening with Jacqueline Charles where she speaks to the community about Haiti’s past and future on Thursday, May 30, 2024, at African Heritage Cultural Arts in Miami.
Lenworth Anglin, center, asks Jacqueline Charles, Haiti/Caribbean Correspondent at the Miami Herald, a question during An Evening with Jacqueline Charles where she speaks to the community about Haiti’s past and future on Thursday, May 30, 2024, at African Heritage Cultural Arts in Miami.

‘I want people to see Haitians as human beings’

After the discussion, people asked questions about Charles’ reporting and how she perceives cultural and political situations.

“What do you want non-Haitians to know about Haiti?”

Charles said she believes there is a slight contempt when people speak about Haiti, and that Americans aren’t as educated about the country.

“I want people to understand that Haitians are just like everybody else,” she said. “They have hopes. ... I want people to see Haitians as human beings.”

She said some journalists, including herself, can give a sanitized version of gang violence.

“We really do not tell you how or what happens to somebody when they are either kidnapped or killed,” she said. “It’s really barbaric.”

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In her writing, Charles said she tries to humanize the Haitian experience because “these are people like you and I.”

Charles was also asked if she sees hope for Haiti in the future.

“I always see hope because I do not need to be hopeless,” she said.

Charles said Haitians also are hopeful, wanting to invest in improving the country.

“People look to me to tell them that there is that one shred of hope,” she said. “If I didn’t think that things could change, then why am I doing this?”