Pierre Azor – Stronger With Him

Being the firstborn of a family, there are a plethora of burdens and obligations that one is imposed to carry. Being both a sibling and a parent to your siblings becomes an inevitable side effect. Firstly, you are more susceptible to your parents’ tough discipline. Then, there is the burden of going places because you have to chaperone your siblings. Or, the burden of letting your siblings have their way because “You are older.” Let’s not forget the burden of being a “Good example.” Pierre, the eldest of seven children, bore some of those burdens. Growing up, he shared the bed with his siblings and my mother would literally sleep on his back. He is the walking memory of the family. He carries much of the family’s history. He was in cahoots with his father to maintain a patrimony of prestige and honor for the family. His first endeavor was to leave Haiti towards a world of obscurity. Unable to foresee what lay ahead, with no money and unable to speak English, but with a hunger for a better living, he landed in Saint Maarten.  He worked many odd jobs then aimed to enter the U.S. Today, he availed all of his siblings to the U.S.

Here goes my virtual interview with Pierre:

Share one of your favorite childhood memories.
From Port-Au-Prince to Aux Cayes, I was the first in my family’s lineage to go to school. Back in 1964, the kids who went to school went barefoot. My father being from the city bought me a pair of shoes. I went to school wearing shoes and everyone surrounded me to look at my shoes. When I got home I told my parents and guess what? The following day, they sent me to school barefoot.

Who has influenced you the most and how?
My father and maternal grandfather have been the two most influential people in my life. My grandfather traveled from Haiti to Cuba at a very young age for more than 15 years. There, he worked very hard. He then chose to move back home, where he lived a great life until his last day.

If you could start all over again, what would you do differently?
I wish that I pursued a higher level of education towards a PhD degree  in Political Science and be involved in more social activities.

What lesson did you learn while living in Saint Maarten and what lesson did you learn while living in the U.S.?
In Saint Maarten, I was very young, it was a new experience living abroad. Being in a new society, it was a time for reflection: who I am, where am I and what to do with my future. In the U.S. precisely in NYC, I was now an adult, I learned how to integrate as an immigrant and how to change my life around.

What would you like to leave for your grandkids?
Being born and raised in a poor country, I decided to raise my children in a rich country where they have great opportunities. I want to leave a better socio-economic status for them, elevating our name from a low social class to middle class. My father always told me to become someone in life. He invested in my education, during this time in Haiti, only a few people went to school. He knew that if I was educated I’d have more chance to have a job in the government. He reminded me that an educated person has no border.

What hope do you have for younger black men growing in America?
My hope for black men in America to have change to be equal. I also hope that as the world changes they would be optimistic, believe in God and pursue a higher education. Refrain from hating on each other and be real men in the new society ahead.

We are stronger with him as we learn to embrace the unknowns of life and take risks. Don’t be afraid to take the BIG one. Make sacrifices for your immediate family but don’t leave your siblings behind. Carry out the heritage that your parents worked so hard to leave for you.

Cheers to a Legacy of Educated Family


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