Journalist Carel Pedre embraces his culture for Haitian Heritage Month

Carel Pedre may be the most watched Haitian person on the planet. The 43-year-old journalist who lives in Sunrise is one of the best known media personalities from the island judging by his following of approximately 912,000 on Instagram and 701,000 on Twitter. He once gave a TED talk on Haiti’s turnaround after the terrible 2010 earthquake and last year spoke at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Interviewed by Caplin News, Pedre embraced the significance and cultural heritage of what it means to come from Haiti, which declared its independence from France in 1804 not long after the American revolution.

“I think being Haitian means carrying that legacy of resilience, of strength, and determination as well, because we’re the first Black Republic, so it means a lot,” he said. “Having that history background, it means also embracing, I would say, the struggle of our ancestors.”

He also says, “Being Haitian means someone who will always fight for freedom, for independence, for justice, for equality, community.”

As Haitian Heritage month draws to a close, Pedre says the island is too little known in Miami. He’s from Port Au Paix, but says he still has much to learn about his motherland. 

“Even me, I was born and raised in Haiti, and I’m still learning,” he said. “Because there’s so much… I feel myself going back to do some research when I get questions like, ’What’s the meaning of that Creole word?’”

Florida is home to more Haitians than anywhere else in the nation with more than a half million immigrants – and South Florida has the greatest number.

In 2007, Pedre began his career and rose to fame as the host of “Digicel Stars”, one of Haiti’s most popular TV shows and talent contests. He became even better known in 2010, when a devastating 7.0 earthquake flattened the island.

He used his platform on X, formerly known as Twitter, to inform the world about the destruction of his country. This led to international recognition. CNN has called his feed “a virtual clearing house” for aid agencies and those seeking urgent help.

During the Tedx Talk that he gave in 2015, he spoke about his experience during the earthquake and what he did to help the people around him during that terrible time.

Pedre formed a group of five people and used his Facebook account, which was accessible to the group, to help people who had families in Haiti. They would take the requests and messages that were being sent in, pass them to the designated families, then go report back what the families had to say. 

“It was practically the first source of direct information with what was happening on the ground,” Pedre said. 

In 2023, he gave a talk about Haiti’s history and its cultural heritage. He spoke passionately about his country and highlighted the key aspects despite the representation of the struggles of Haiti. 

“I wanted to show the audience that Haiti is not just a country of poverty and struggle but is also a country of resilience, beauty, and hope,” he added.

Though he couldn’t contribute as much this year as in the past due to personal issues, he celebrated Haitian Heritage Month in a serious way. Pedre usually travels to Haitian communities and diasporas, to either New York or here in Miami, but this year was a little different for Pedre. 

“I had the opportunity to contribute by promoting the Little Haiti Book Festival,” he said. “I was one of the panelists of this festival, I promoted the Haitian Copper Festival. I moderated two panels, one in New York for a Haitian cuisine book release, and in Miami for the eight years anniversary of the designation of Little Haiti.”

Pedre also uses his platform, Chokarella, to highlight significant Haitian cultural contributions in the world, especially in Florida. He showcases what is being done for people in the community during Haitian Heritage month. 

Pedre stated, “This year, I traveled to Montreal. I did a lot of interviews with people, showcasing a little bit of what they’re doing in Montreal. I think that was a way for me to really highlight the Haitian contribution in Montreal during Haitian heritage to show that it matters as well.”

Pedre embraces Haitian culture and reflects upon it. His passionate spirit as well as his representation of determination is a great way of showcasing what it means to be Haitian.

“Being involved with Haitian culture is an ongoing journey of learning,” he says.

Ahmiyah Nelson is a Florida International University sophomore pursuing a bachelor's degree in biological sciences. She is interested in entertainment and music. She has also completed nationals in mid-distance running.

Jason Oboh is a Florida International University student in his senior year pursuing a bachelor’s degree in digital journalism. He enjoys listening to music and watching sports. After graduation, he plans to work in the sports and music media.

Carolina Alvarez is a Florida International University student currently in her sophomore year pursuing a bachelor’s degree in digital communications. She enjoys film, music and fashion.