My mother, Yolande Mangones, was born in Au Cayes, Haiti in 1943 to a colonel in the army. Although she lived in his big house with extended relatives, she was cared for by a nanny, but they had plenty of food and domestic help. Her father could afford a good education so Mom was educated as a nurse, as were a lot middle-class women at that time. While in nursing school, she met my dad Jean Guichon. They married after graduation. Shortly after, they had their first child, a son named Ronald Jude.
Although Yolande was reared in a privileged class, she grew up watching her father's political opinion and voice silenced. He lived in fear that his opposition to the political regime would cost him either his freedom or his life. Jean-Claude "Papa Doc" Duvalier had been President for decades - having declared himself President for Life - and parsing power out to his henchmen serving as Ministers to the government agencies. They further corrupted the system and committed human injustices. Mom decided that life would be better in North America where she would have a voice to speak out and help to organize a more democratic system in her homeland.
Life would be better in North America where she would have a voice to speak out and help to organize a more democratic system at home.
Yolande was the first in our clan and among her friends to secure a working Visa to the US. Having left her husband and two-year-old son in Haiti, she arrived in Chicago in the summer of 1968, jumping from one political boiling pot right into another. Yolande landed on Chicago's South Side, during the heat of the civil rights' race riots, the Democratic National Convention brawl, and shortly after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy. Welcome to America!