COMMENTARY: Celebrate National Caribbean-American Heritage

Melissa Martin

Start planning a party for the 2019 National Caribbean-American Heritage Month. Listen to the sounds of reggae, meringue, calypso, rumba and zouk music during the merrymaking. And dance. Sip a tropical concoction and feast on seafood.

Caribbean Heritage Month commemoration was adopted by the U.S. House of Representatives in 2005 to recognize the significance of Caribbean people and their descendants in the history and culture of the United States. The resolution passed the Senate in 2006 and President George H.W. Bush issued the proclamation in 2006.

President Obama declared June 2011 as National Caribbean American Heritage Month, and recognized the integration of Caribbean nationals into the American society while still maintaining their cultural identity. Since the declaration, the White House has issued an annual proclamation recognizing June as Caribbean-American Heritage Month. President Trump proclaimed June 2018 as National Caribbean-American Heritage Month.

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 Nevis. We count among our famous sons and daughters, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Cicely Tyson, W.E.B Dubois, James Weldon Johnson, Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier to name a few. The Institute of Caribbean Studies (ICS) effort began in 1999.

The vision of ICS National Caribbean American Heritage Month (NCAHM) Program is to create a network of Caribbean American leaders driven by a passion to cultivate an enduring community.

The Mission of Caribbean American Heritage Month USA (CAHMUSA) is to promote the rich culture and heritage of the Caribbean American people and region to the people of America, in particular, and to the world in general. The Caribbean islands and region is probably best known as a vacation area with beautiful scenery, beaches and reefs. It is also known for its music, such as Reggae and Soca, and for Bob Marley, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj and others, Olympic stars such as Usain Bolt, Sanya Richards-Ross and Kirani James, boxers such as Lennox Lewis and Trevor Berbick and its cuisine such as Jerk and Roti.

USA Celebrations

Have fun in the sun! “Large Caribbean American communities are in the New York Tri-State area, South and Central Florida, Atlanta (Georgia), Maryland, Washington D.C., Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Baltimore, Texas and California. Various estimates place this population as between 4 to 7 million people, including the first, second and third generations.” Caribbean National Weekly is the leading Caribbean American news source for South Florida.

The month of June is recognized as National Caribbean Heritage Month and is celebrated in major cities across the United States. Experience a slice of Caribbean culture in your own backyard!

Read the online Caribbean newspapers to learn more about the citizens, culture and country. Then plan an island vacation.

Melissa Martin, PhD, is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in US.

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