We just lost a great fighter: Jean Yves Pointdujour, 63, of a stroke on Feb. 3. For those of you who never had the pleasure of knowing this feisty, fierce man, he was a passionate contributor to the cause of freedom and justice for Haiti – from the belly of the beast. Under Jean-Claude Duvalier, when not driving his cab around Washington, he spent much of his time at the Washington Office on Haiti with us, helping with mass mailings to urge people to tell their congresspeople to suspend military aid to the dictatorship, organizing demonstrations, accompanying dissidents from Haiti to meetings we’d set up around town.
He was the first community member to rush into the office in the early morning of Feb. 7, 1986, where we whooped and laughed as the TV played over and over the scene of Michelle Bennett Duvalier, in white turban, slowly dragging on her cigarette next to her husband, while their limousine rolled toward the airplane that would take them into exile.
Yves called the Embassy of Haiti, shouted, “Mes condoleances!” into the mouthpiece, and slammed the phone into the receiver.
That was classic Yves: Straight-up about what he believed and about acting on those beliefs. Very excited. Very loud. Very funny.
In 1995, Yves – under the nom de guerre Yves Dayiti – started a weekly program, “Konbit Lakay,” which aired every Saturday night on WPFW, DC’s Pacifica station. For decades, Yves used this platform to denounce injustice in Haiti and in Washington, and to urge the Haitian community to mobilize. Yves bellowed into the microphone, passionately making his points and taking on any guests who had a different opinion.
One Saturday morning as Yves came to pick me up at my Mount Pleasant apartment, my nasty landlady made some racist comment. Yves loomed right over her, leaned into her face, practically jabbed his pointing finger into her nose, and out-yelled her. Damn. The man held back nothing in defending righteousness.
The earth is a less rebellious, more docile planet without Yves. Wish he had been able to stick around longer. Wish we had more like him.
Mèsi kanmarad. We’ll miss you. We love you.