It is with sadness that many of us have learned that on February 25, Haitian photojournalist Jean Ristil Jean-Baptiste passed away at a hospital in Port-au-Prince. See twitter for messages from friends and fans of his stunning photographic work.
I first met Jean in August of 2006 when I was taking part in a human rights-labor delegation to Haiti. It was clear that Jean's strong presence, his sincere dedication to Haiti's poor majority, made a strong impression on those around him. As the only internationally known photojournalist living and working full time in Cite Soleil he faced many hardships in his life: after the 2004 coup he was targeted with intimidation, threats, and police brutality.
In August of 2006 myself and another participant in the delegation interviewed Jean, the transcript of which can still be read on upsidedownworld.org. He provided us with hundreds of more photos that haitianalysis still has backed up on a hard drive (a website in the midst of being relaunched at a new URL). We kept in touch, and the next year he asked me to make a website for his Cite Soleil based children's center Kole Zepòl Sove Ti Moun. Others from our delegation soon returned to help set up internet at Kole Zepòl. The website we made remains online here. Jean was well known in his community, cherished by his family, and was a great friend to Haiti solidarity activists. His work appeared on various websites, in newspapers such as Haiti Liberte and Haiti Progres and in stunning documentaries. If anyone would like to add more to this homage please email me: jebsprague[at]gmail[dot]com and I'll add it. Thanks to Dominique Esser for photo 4 and 5 below. Also see Kevin Pina's much more poignant post on Jean Ristil here as well as Ezili Dantò's post here.