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. ICS’ effort began in 1999 with a petition to President Bill Clinton for the recognition of a Caribbean American Heritage Month.
In 2000, the Institute of Caribbean Studies (ICS) began leading activities in celebration of June as Caribbean American Heritage Month in Washington DC, building on efforts started by a now defunct ad-hoc group of Washington DC residents to have a Caribbean Heritage Month designated in Washington, D. C. in 1999.
The official campaign for a National Caribbean American Heritage Month began in 2004 when a legislative bill was tabled in Congress by Congresswoman Barbara Lee. Language was provided by ICS Founder and President Dr. Claire Nelson. 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 W. Bush on June 5, 2006.
In 2006, actress and singer Sheryl Lee Ralph and basketball great Rick Fox were named official spokespersons for National Caribbean American Heritage Month. Learn more at www.caribbeanamericanheritage.org.
Each year, ICS works with our partners at a number of organizations to present a parade of events for varied palates. Learn more about this year’s events at www.caribbeanamericanheritage.org.