National Caribbean-American Month

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In June 2005, the House of Representatives unanimously adopted H. Con. Res. 71, sponsored by Congresswoman Barbara Lee, recognizing the significance of Caribbean people and their descendants in the history and culture of the United States. On February 14, 2006, the resolution similarly passed the Senate, culminating a two-year, bipartisan, and bicameral effort. The Proclamation was issued by President George Bush on June 6, 2006.

Since the declaration, the White House has issued an annual proclamation recognizing June as Caribbean-American Heritage Month. This year marks the eighth anniversary of June as National Caribbean American Heritage Month.

The campaign to designate June as National Caribbean American Heritage month was spearheaded by Dr. Claire Nelson, Founder, and President of the Institute of Caribbean Studies. Through the commemoration of this month, we hope to ensure that America is reminded that its greatness lies in its diversity, with Caribbean immigrants from founding father Alexander Hamilton, to journalist Malcolm Gladwell, who have shaped the American dream.

President Joe Biden Proclaims June 2021 as National Caribbean-American Heritage Month
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION

 

America’s diversity is and always has been the defining strength of our Nation — in every generation, our society, spirit, and shared ambitions have been refreshed by wave after wave of immigrants seeking out their American dream.

 

Throughout our history, Caribbean Americans have brought vibrant cultures, languages, traditions, and values that strengthen our country and add new chapters to our common story. In recognition of Caribbean Americans’ countless gifts and contributions to our Nation, we celebrate National Caribbean-American Heritage Month.

Caribbean Americans have made our country more innovative and more prosperous; they have enriched our Nation’s arts and culture, our public institutions, and our economy. I am honored to celebrate this National Caribbean-American Heritage Month alongside Caribbean-American barrier-breaking public servants in my Administration — including Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, and Domestic Policy Advisor Susan Rice — all of whom continue to be sources of pride and inspiration for Caribbean Americans across the country.

Caribbean-American intellects and artists like James Weldon Johnson, the poet who gave us the anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing; celebrated neo-expressionist painter Jean-Michel Basquiat; and John B. Russwurm, the first Caribbean-American editor of a U.S. newspaper, has left a lasting impact on our country.

 

Caribbean-American jurists like Constance Baker Motley, the first Black woman appointed to the Federal bench, and the Nation’s first Latina Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor, have made innumerable contributions to American justice system. Shirley Chisholm, the daughter of Caribbean immigrants, blazed new trails as our Nation’s first Black Congresswoman — and the first Black woman to launch a major-party bid for the Presidency. Public servants like Antonia Novello, our Nation’s first female Surgeon General, and Colin Powell, our first Black Secretary of State, have followed in her footsteps, charting new paths of their own in service to the American people.

Despite the powerful legacy of achievement of Caribbean Americans, many members of the Caribbean-American community continue to face systemic barriers to equity, opportunity, and justice. Systemic racism has uniquely impacted Black and Latino immigrant communities, including Caribbean Americans, leading to disparities in health care, education, housing, criminal justice, and economic opportunity.

 

My Administration is committed to addressing those entrenched disparities — and bringing our Nation closer to its promise that all people are created equal and deserve to be treated equally throughout their lives. That is why I have launched a whole-of-government approach to advancing racial justice and equity.

During National Caribbean-American Heritage Month, we celebrate the legacy and essential contributions of Caribbean Americans who have added so much to our American fabric.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2018 as National Caribbean-American Heritage Month. I encourage


IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of June, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty‑one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-fifth.

DONALD J. TRUMP.
 

 

History of Caribbean-American Heritage Month

One of our core missions is to recognize and annually celebrate National Caribbean-American Heritage Month, June of every year; in doing so, we work to bring awareness to the contributions made to our society and culture by peoples of Caribbean heritage and highlighting the contribution made by Caribbean immigrants to the United States.    

 

History

Caribbean immigrants have been contributing to the well-being of American society since its founding. Alexander Hamilton, the First Secretary of the Treasury was from the Caribbean island of St. Kitts. We count among our famous sons and daughters, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Cicely Tyson, WEB Dubois, James Weldon Johnson, Harry Belafonte, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, and Sidney Poitier to name a few. The Institute of Caribbean Studies (ICS) effort began in 1999 with a petition to President Clinton for the recognition of a Caribbean American Heritage Month.

ICS' effort to establish National Caribbean American Heritage Month (NCAHM) began in 1999 with outreach to President Bill Clinton asking for the recognition of August as National Caribbean American Heritage Month.

 

This resulted in the first White House Caribbean American Community Briefing being held at the Clinton White House in 1999. Meanwhile, a now-defunct Ad-Hoc Group of Caribbean Americans lead by Doreen Thomspon organized efforts to get June declared Caribbean Heritage Month in Washington DC. ICS joined forces with the AdHoc group in June 1999, but by 2000, the group dispersed.

In June 2000, ICS took on the mantle of leadership in Washington DC, changed the name to National Caribbean American Heritage Month, and organized events in June under that banner. Efforts to engage the White House were fruitless. In 2001, ICS was joined by TransAfrica Forum and the Caribbean Staff Association of the World Bank to organize events during June, promoting recognition of June as National Caribbean American Heritage Month, and the momentum slowly began to build.

 

In 2004, the efforts gathered steam, when an Official Campaign for June as National Caribbean American Heritage Month was launched upon the tabling of a Bill in the US Congress by Congresswoman Barbara Lee, with language provided by ICS Founder and President, Dr. Claire Nelson.

 

ICS worked with the Office of Congresswoman Barbara Lee to galvanize support for the Bill from organizations across the country and organized events on Capitol Hill in recognition of June in 2004. The Bill was reintroduced and passed the House in June 2005, and the Senate in February 2006. A Proclamation making the Resolution official was signed by President George Bush on June 5, 2006.

 

 

 

 
United States House of Representative Barbara Lee, California's 9th District

On March 14, 2004, Congresswoman Barbara Lee introduced House Resolution 570 "Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that there should be established a Caribbean-American Heritage Month." The Lee bill urges that there should be an established Caribbean-American Heritage Month to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of Caribbean-Americans to the United States.

A release from her office said, as a member of the bi-partisan Caribbean Caucus, Lee wanted to recognize the role that Caribbean people and their descendants have played in the United States. "It is important that we work to strengthen our relations with Caribbean governments," stated Lee. "It is also important that we address the concerns of Caribbean-Americans residing in our districts.

"From 1820 to 2002, more than 68 million people emigrated from the Caribbean region to the United States. Caribbean-Americans have influenced every aspect of American culture, society, and government. Their history is interwoven with ours."

Lee was first elected to the House of Representatives for the Ninth District of California in a 1998 special election to fill the seat of retiring Congressman Ron Dellums. Congresswoman Lee came to Washington after serving in the California State Assembly from 1990-1996 and the California State Senate from 1996-1998. Lee was born in El Paso, Texas.

She moved from Texas to California in 1960 with her military family parents and attended San Fernando High School, San Fernando, California. Lee was educated at Mills College and received an M.S.W. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1975.

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