Success would not have been possible without the stewardship of Congresswoman Barbara Lee and her Caribbean staff person Jamila Thompson of the Bahamas. The heart, soul and determination of Dr. Claire Nelson and her team could not be broken. 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, all who have shaped the American dream.
The Institute of Caribbean Studies, which still stands strong today and continues to engage and document the journey of past, present and into the future. As we recognize the Institute of Caribbean Studies (ICS) in everything that is done, we have that visionary, the immediate supporters and the sustainers. During the inaugural year they were able to reach and achieve cooperation and recognition from all over the country with special commemorative events set up in New York, Salt Lake City, Utah, Los Angeles, Houston, Connecticut, New Jersey, Brooklyn, Queens, Oakland/San Francisco and Washington DC.Significant contributions were made by Senate sponsor Charles Shumer, Former Congressman Charlie Rangel and his Chief of Staff, Former Congresswoman Donna Christian Christenson, Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, Dr. Una Clarke, then Borough President Marty Markowitz and his Deputy Yvonne Graham, The Jamaica National Team led by Earl Jarrett and Leon Mitchell, Dr. Waldaba Stewart, Dr. Roy Hastick (RIP), Gabriel Christian Esq and his staff, The Caribbean Ambassadorial Corps, led by Ambassador Michael King of Barbados, Commissioner. The South Florida support lead by Glenn Joseph engaged, State Representative and now Mayor Hazelle Rogers, Hulbert James, Roxanne Vialles and so many more.
CARIBBEAN AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH! 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 fourteenth celebration of June as National Caribbean American Heritage Month.
For the Caribbean diaspora, it should not be about the month, it is about engagement that started the initiation of Caribbean American Heritage Month, education that will empower, activism that will sustain and recognition of which is love and respect. We are many voices and diverse in many areas, but we stand together united as we thank those that came before and those that are active in this space and those that will sustain us in advocacy for the future.