This Day in Black History: July 15, 1953

Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the first democratically elected president of Haiti, was born.

Posted: 07/15/2013 12:00 AM EDT

Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the first democratically elected president of Haiti, was born on July 15, 1953, in Port-Salut, Haiti. Aristide was raised in the Roman Catholic tradition, and he eventually pursued postgraduate studies in psychology and theology. He also studied biblical theology in Rome and Israel. 

As a priest, Aristide was not liked by the church hierarchy for having outspoken political views. In 1990, he ran for president of Haiti and won, taking 67 percent of the vote. As president, he created a literacy program and cracked down on human rights violations. This angered the military and Haiti's elite, and Aristide eventually was ousted in September 1991. He lived in exile until October 1994. 

In 2000, Aristide was elected president of Haiti again. His opposition protested the elections and accused the leader of fraud and demanded a new election. But the elections were officiated, and he was inaugurated on February 2001.

The former Haitian president fled the country again in February 2004 after anti-government protesters accused him and his party, Fanmi Lavalas, of intimidation, violence and corruption to maintain power. He returned in March 2011 and received a warm welcoming from his supporters who opposed the power of current President Michel Martelly. 

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(Photo: FATI MOALUSI/AFP/Getty Images)

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