It's undeniable that people from the Caribbean, and those with island roots, have made a huge impact on the United States. Each June, the U.S. government honors and recognizes these contributions through Caribbean-American Heritage Month. As we gear up to also give flowers to the men and women from various nations, we wanted to first school you on a few things you should know about this special month.
Here are 3 things everyone should know about Caribbean-American Heritage Month.
It was officially recognized in 2006
Although Dr. Claire Nelson, PhD. laid the groundwork in 2004 to have the month recognized officially by the government, it would take nearly two years before President George W. Bush signed the proclamation making the resolution official. Just a year prior, the House of Representatives passed the bill that recognized the significant role that Caribbean people played in U.S. history.
90% of Caribbean-Americans outside the U.S. territories come from 5 countries
While there are officially 13 Caribbean nations, census studies show that the majority of those outside the U.S. territories who planted roots in mainland U.S., came from only five of those countries. Jamaica, Cuba, Haiti, Dominican Republic and Trinidad and Tobago are responsible for 90% of the current Caribbean-American population.
Many U.S. history makers are from the Caribbean
We could never officially name every man and woman to make historical feats in the U.S. with Caribbean heritage, but we certainly want to name a few. From the "old school" there's: Haitian-born Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, the founder of Chicago; Sidney Poitier, a renowned Black actor who hailed from the Bahamas; Colin Powell, the first person of color appointed as the Secretary of the State—his parents had immigrated to this country from Jamaica; James Weldon Johnson, the writer of the Black National Anthem—his parents also hailed from the Bahamas; Celia Cruz, the world-renowned "Queen of Salsa" music, was born in Cuba; and Shirley Chisholm, the first African American Congresswoman and first Black woman Presidential candidate—her father is from Guyana and her mother is from Barbados.
Leaders of the new school include: Bajan pop star and businesswoman Rihanna; rapper Nicki Minaj, singer, who's of Trinidadian heritage; the iconic Grace Jones, who is a proud Jamaican through and through; EBONY's April 2023 cover star Jodi Turner-Smith, who's family is from Jamrock; the performer Joey Bada$$ who is of St. Lucian lineage; actress Kerry Washington, who has yardie bloodline, is a cousin of Colin Powell; the Haitian-American fashion designer Kerby Jean-Raymond, founder of Pyer Moss; and the list goes on and on.