Author and former child slave Jean-Robert Cadet to speak at Fairfield University


Jean-Robert Cadet, founder of the Jean R. Cadet Restavec Foundation which works to rescue child slaves in Haiti - and a former child slave himself - will speak at Fairfield University on Thursday, March 13 at 8 p.m. in the Kelley Theatre of the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts. Admission is free.

"Restavec is derived from the French phrase, "reste avec," meaning "stay with," and in his autobiography "Restavec: From Haitian Slave Child to Middle-Class American" Cadet vividly describes what it was like to be an unwanted illegitimate child "staying with" a well-to-do family whose physical and emotional abuse was sanctioned by Haitian society. He also details his subsequent life in the United States, where, despite being faced with American racism, he got himself through college and found success in the Army, in business, and finally in teaching.

Since the 1998 publication of his book, Cadet has shared his story widely. He spoke before UNICEF and the United Nations in New York and before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on behalf of Haiti's slave children. At a meeting of the International Institute for Labour Studies in Geneva in 2002, he said government intervention was needed if the problem is ever to be completely eliminated.

"Restavec" is currently being used by many American universities as a text for courses in Caribbean history, social justice, anthropology and African-American history - including at Fairfield University where Dr. Laurence Miners, associate professor of economics, and Dr. Kathleen Schwab, associate professor of visual and performing arts, used the book in an honors class they co-taught that explored the meaning of value, including the value of human life.

Cadet lives outside of Cincinnati, holds a master's degree in French literature and has taught at the University of Northern Kentucky. He currently works full-time for his foundation, speaks about his experience and makes frequent trips to Haiti.

Cadet's talk is being sponsored by the Fairfield University Humanities Institute, Office of Student Affairs, Center for Faith and Public Life, International Studies, Ignatian Residential College, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Peace & Justice Studies, Campus Ministry and Black Studies.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on March 3, 2008

Vol. 40, No. 194