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Elected officials and community leaders from the Caribbean American community have come out in support of the Bill proclaiming June as National Caribbean American Heritage Month in the United States (US), which was passed in the US Senate last Tuesday (Feb.14).
The Bill – House Concurrent Resolution 71 – authored by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland, CA) and supported by a number of Caribbean-American concerns, acknowledges and celebrates the contributions of Caribbean Americans to the growth and development of the United States.
Jamaica’s Consul General to New York, Dr. Basil K. Bryan said that the unanimous passage of the Bill by the US Senate “shows what can be achieved when we work together for a common cause”.
“I too join in welcoming the good news with respect to the passage of the Bill naming the month of June as National Caribbean American Heritage Month. This is important in as much as it recognizes the immense contributions to Caribbean American history and the development of the US society by nationals from the Caribbean and those of Caribbean heritage, which began even before the founding of this country and continuing to this day,” he stated.
For Barbara Wilson of Philadelphia, the celebration of Caribbean American Heritage Month, is an opportunity for the Caribbean community “to stand up and be counted”. “Finally! We are grateful to Congresswoman Barbara Lee for realizing that Caribbean immigrants on a whole do contribute to this great nation and should be recognized accordingly,” she said.
“It is a proven fact that all over the United States, Caribbean immigrants have assisted in the development and growth of this nation, even though, at times, we are not recognized. Now we will and thanks to Congresswoman Lee,” said Ms. Wilson, who is head of the annual Philadelphia Caribbean Festival (Philly Cari-fest).
And, even as the Bill awaits a presidential proclamation from George W. Bush, the final seal of approval before becoming law, Winston W. Barnaby, Secretary of the West Indian Foundation, Hartford, thinks that so far, “this national effort is another milestone in the collective journey of the Caribbean American community towards self determination”.
Since l999, the Institute of Caribbean Studies along with an adhoc Caribbean group in Washington, DC, have been observing June as Caribbean American Heritage Month.