OUR HERITAGE: A Larger than life look at the Caribbean

Author:  Dawn A. Davis
Caribbean-born immigrants have had pivotal roles in shaping the history and governance of the United States.

book cover0Alexander Hamilton, a U.S. founding father, was born in St. Kitts and Nevis and spent his formative years in the Virgin Islands. He was also the first secretary of the U.S. Treasury.

George M. Dallas, who was born to a Jamaican father, became the 11th vice president of the U.S.

These are among the facts readers will learn from the book “Caribbean American Heritage: A History of High Achievers”. Authors Elliot Bastian and Sandra Bernard-Bastien have unearthed fascinating details about folk linked to the Caribbean that will leave readers inspired.

Arranged in chronological order, beginning with early Caribbean immigrants and sub-divided into categories including politics, education, fine arts, religion and music, the book takes readers on a journey of discovery. Accompanied by a forward from Howard University President Wayne Frederick plus images of Barack Obama, Bill and Hilary Clinton, and George W. Bush, readers are confronted with the stunning facts.


The reader is summoned into history with a tightly packed yet readable geography lesson of the Caribbean and its place in historical context. With the intention to tell the “story that has been lost in the myriad stories of other immigrant actors in the American drama”, the authors paint a picture of the Caribbean through square miles, borders, islets and cays, all embraced by the azure blue sea. They highlight stories punctuated with the rise through education, literacy, acculturation, resilience and creativity that define a people characterized by syncopated tongues.

The “meat” of the book details the lives of famous, infamous and unknown Caribbean Americans. Unexpected tidbits spur readers to delve deeper into Caribbean history. Case in point: Born to Haitian slaves in South Carolina, Joseph Hayne Rainey broke the race barrier to become the first black speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives in 1874. His achievement made headlines, such as “A Liberated Slave in the Speaker’s Chair”.

Many more stories make the book a valuable history course that should be in every Caribbean household. It’s literature we want to read and take ownership of. It’s about a larger than life Caribbean.