Organizers of Little Haiti Thanksgiving Brunch Want to Encourage Volunteerism, Activism

Article by Kate Stein, WLRN – Nov 22, 2017

The women behind a Thanksgiving brunch in Little Haiti are hoping turkey will distract from the community’s renewed concerns about immigration.

“We have turkey cooked five different ways,” said Emeline Alexis-Schulz, who founded the 11th annual event. “Whole turkey, barbecued turkey, turkey in Creole sauce, jerked turkey, fried turkey.”

Plus a turkey calling contest. Participants will have to imitate a live turkey that will be attending the brunch — in a cage.

But the meal at the Little Haiti Cultural Center will have slightly somber undertones this year. Earlier this week, the Trump administration announced its decision to end the program that has allowed Haitians to live in the U.S. since the devastating 2010 earthquake there. Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, is now set to expire in July 2019.

Still, Alexis-Schulz and fellow organizer Sandy Dorsainvil say they’re eager to gather their community for a joyful event.

“This celebration reinforces how much we’ve become part of the community,” Dorsainvil said. “This brunch has turned into a tradition for my family. I’ve been coming with my children to volunteer for years.”

The brunch originated as a neighborhood gathering in Legion Park. This year, Alexis-Schulz says she expects 400 guests for two catered meals, a Christian worship service, games and live jazz by the French Horn Collective.

But, she says, an underlying goal is to keep young professionals, who might be moving away from Little Haiti after graduation, engaged with the community. About 70 volunteers — most of them young adults — will be decorating, serving food, welcoming guests and driving meals to people who are homebound or in nursing homes.

“Our hope is that their willingness to serve is not going to stop,” Alexis-Schulz said.

She argued it’s particularly important now because Little Haiti needs the zeal of young people to continue protesting the decision to end TPS.

Two catering companies, Yolenes Catering and Saralys Catering, contributed food for the event. The Magic City Innovation District Foundation was also a sponsor.

Source: WLRN, 2017

Why is Thanksgiving so late this year

While you’re basting your turkey, prepping your pies, and getting your Thanksgiving menu together, it might occur to you that Thanksgiving is a little later than usual this year. And you’d be right! (After all, “What day is Thanksgiving?” is always Googled around this time of year.) As it turns out, there’s a reason the holiday is arriving a little on the tardier side—and it’s downright historic. In fact, the story dates all the way back to 1939 when Franklin Roosevelt decided to shake up the tradition a bit in the name of capitalism.

Thanksgiving had been celebrated on the last Thursday of the month since the time of Abraham Lincoln. But, according to TIME, during 1939, the calendar had been unusual, as the month started on a Wednesday, so there were five Thursdays as opposed to four.

To restore some order, Roosevelt moved the national holiday to the second-to-last Thursday of the month (a change that many were unhappy with). Instead of focusing on the negative, Roosevelt attempted to justify his decision with a pro-shopping response: merchants would now have a holiday further from Christmas to allow for more shopping time. In a way, this birthed the consumer craze known as Black Friday nearly 80 years ago.

The following year (1940), the change stuck as the second-to-last Thursday (Nov. 21) was declared the official Thanksgiving Day. In 1941, he reportedly admitted that the switch was a mistake, but because the calendars were already printed with the third Thursday as Thanksgiving Day, it was too late to go back.

As 1941 ended, Roosevelt made the final permanent change, as he signed a bill making Thanksgiving Day fall on the fourth Thursday of November, regardless of if it is the last Thursday of the month or not.

And for 2019, you may be thinking, “When is Thanksgiving?” This year, the month of November begins on a Friday, which means the fourth Thursday of the month falls on Nov. 28—it’s the first time Thanksgiving has been this late since 2013.

Regardless of if Turkey Day snuck up on you or if you’re been counting down the days till you get a taste of your grandma’s famous dessert recipe again, at least now you have a tidbit of trivia to bust out at your holiday party. Cheers to chowing down on stuffing, mashed potatoes, and all your favorite sides with a little more wisdom!

(From, Nov 2019)