Haitian Studies Association

Past Conferences

2023 Annual Conference Keynote Speaker: Dr. Leslie Alexander

The Cradle of Hope:

How Haitian Independence Inspired the

Birth of Black Internationalism in the United States

Dr. Leslie Alexander will be the keynote speaker at H.S.A.’s 35th Annual Conference Ayiti Se Tè Glise: Im/Migration, Movement & In-Betweenness this October 5th – 8th, 2023 at Morehouse College. 


Haiti’s emergence as a free, sovereign nation lit a beacon of hope for Black people across the African diaspora during the nineteenth century. In this talk, Leslie Alexander chronicles how Haitian sovereignty shaped Black political consciousness in the United States, especially among those demanding freedom. For them, Haiti was their “cradle of hope”—the only nation on earth where Black people could live free and equal. All their dreams for the global Black freedom struggle rested on Haiti’s shoulders, prompting free and enslaved Black people in the United States to wage an unyielding battle to defend Haiti and its sovereignty. In so doing, they gave birth to a new Black internationalist consciousness—one that not only demanded an end to slavery, but also insisted on full freedom, equality, and sovereignty for Black people throughout the African diaspora.

About Dr. Leslie Alexander

Dr. Leslie Alexander is the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Professor of History at Rutgers University and is a Fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University. A specialist in early African American and African Diaspora history, she is the author of African or American?: Black Identity and Political Activism in New York City, 1784-1861, and Fear of a Black Republic: Haiti and the Birth of Black Internationalism in the United States. She is also the co-editor of three additional volumes, including Ideas in Unexpected Places: Reimagining the Boundaries of Black Intellectual History. Her current research, which appears in The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story, examines how surveillance of free and enslaved Black communities in the colonial and antebellum eras laid the foundation for modern-day policing. A three-time Ford Foundation fellowship recipient, Alexander is the immediate Past President of the Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora (ASWAD) and serves on the Advisory Councils for the National Council for Black Studies, the Journal of African American History, Black Perspectives, The Black Scholar, and the Montpelier Foundation Board.