This June 2009, marks the fourth national celebrations of June as Caribbean American Heritage Month and the first with a Democratic President. ICS and its affiliates and partners around the country have succeeded in setting a pace for the past three years commemorating National Celebrations of June as Caribbean American Heritage Month that sets the bar for this year’s celebrations.
Citing the need to continue building on the previous year’s, ICS as the architect and Chair of the National Campaign to commemorate JUNE as Caribbean American Heritage Month, has forged relationships with individuals and organizations around the country with a singular vision in mind, that is to set a standard for what Caribbean American Heritage Month must become.
Members of the National Commemorative Committee which includes community leaders from across America have been working feverishly to ensure a widened outreach. Imcrease efforts were made to engage new community leaders in centers of high concentration of Caribbean Americans. The purpose of the National Commemorative Committee is to put in place an organizing process that is able to withstand the rigors of national, language and racial and ethnic differences over time. Says, Dr. Nelson, “what we have is not perfect, but it is perfect for where we are now. We are a community in transition from the cocoon of near invisibility to staking our claim in American society and history. Given the awakening that took place in the 2008 election, I anticipate an increase in the number of events and an increase in participation of community organizations and leaders.
From Atlanta to Brooklyn to Orlando to Fort Lauderdale to Washington DC the first 4 days of June are filled with a series of activities that reflect the diversity of the region while celebrating the unity. From film festivals to carnivals to food festivals to the capstone National Caribbean American Legislative Conference in Washington DC, the month is shaping up to be a wave of opportunities to display Caribbean influence on American life.
The Caribbean diaspora in the US is estimated at around 5 million. Given this significant number and the current political/economic environment, and anti-immigrant climate, the efforts to establish a National Caribbean American Heritage Month which began in 1999, remain significant and critical in making visible the Caribbean American identity, developing the agenda and recognizing Caribbean Americans who contribute significantly to the American landscape.