One reflection of post-1965 Caribbean immigrants achieving critical mass in North American cities and of their political coming of age is that group’s investment in civil society organizations that move away from singular nation-state interests to the identification and support for pan-Caribbean American interests.
One such organization, the Society for the Advancement of the Caribbean Diaspora (SACD), became reality in Brooklyn on August 20, 2009.
Founding members of the SACD include Minna Hamilton-LaFortune (Jamaica) – President; Carol Woodham (Jamaica) – Vice President; Gloria Sudal (Jamaica) – Treasurer; Karieth Mair (Jamaica), and Sam Belnavis (Jamaica).
Other members of the organization include Ulster Brathwaite; Anthony McKenzie; Basil Daley; Tionne Tyson; Urcel Williams; Rudolph Brooks, and Pamela Ransom.
The Society for the Advancement of the Caribbean Diaspora identifies its mission as follows:
- To engage the communities of the Caribbean Diaspora through the exploration of our common interests and concerns, and through our collective resources ensure the welfare and advancement of the Caribbean Diaspora.
- To recognize and celebrate the achievements of the people of the Caribbean Diaspora.
- To identify talents, encourage wealth building, lifelong education, self development and personal responsibility through networking opportunities, educational seminars, conferences, community projects, humanitarian needs, charity and through the promotion of the foods, culture and arts of the Caribbean, for a more enlightened and sustainable future of the Caribbean Diaspora.
Articulating why she felt compelled to start this organization, LaFortune, whose own Jamaican-Haitian household is a reflection of Diaspora convergence in the private sphere, stated, “While Caribbean Americans have made significant progress in many areas, we have not fully harnessed our resources to make a collective difference both here and in our countries of origin.”
“We are at a historical juncture where we have capacity – by virtue of the rich treasure trove of human and other capitals which are in our community — to organize locally to address our needs while simultaneously giving back to our communities of origin,” she added.
At the August launch, LaFortune underscored her point that what is commonplace in the private sphere needs to now influence the public sphere to improve the lived experiences of Caribbean people in the United States and in the sending countries: “The Caribbean Diaspora is rich with knowledgeable individuals. This knowledge, however, is not being harnessed to nurture and help members of our communities here or [in our countries of origin] that need advice and guidance, resources to overcome the obstacles they are facing in their lives and their environments.”
The organization is invested in propagating goodwill, respect, strong family values, professionalism, accountability and the sharing of knowledge.
The initial program of the organization includes fundraising, creating networking opportunities, and partnering with U.S. Census Bureau to raise awareness about the importance of the next year’s census within the Caribbean Community.