One of our core missions is to recognize and annually celebrate National
Caribbean-American Heritage Month, June of every year; in doing so, we work
to bring awareness to the contributions made to our society and culture by
peoples of Caribbean heritage and highlighting the contribution made my
Caribbean immigrants to the
United States and Texas.
Click Here for the Official National Caribbean American Heritage Month Website
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 St. Kitts. We count among our famous sons and daughters, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Cicely Tyson, WEB Dubois, James Weldon Johnson, Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier to name a few. The Institute of Caribbean Studies effort began in 1999 with a petition to President Clinton for the recognition of a Caribbean American Heritage Month.
In 2000, ICS began leading the 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 in Washington DC in 1999. The official Campaign for a National Caribbean American Heritage Month began in 2004, when the Bill was tabled in Congress by Congresswoman Barbara Lee, with language 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 Bush on June 5, 2006.
On March 14, 2004, Congresswoman Barbara Lee introduced House Resolution 570 "Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that there should be established a Caribbean-American Heritage Month." The Lee bill urges that there should be an established Caribbean-American Heritage Month to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of Caribbean-Americans to the United States.
A release from her office said, as a member of the bi-partisan Caribbean Caucus, Lee wanted to recognize the role that Caribbean people and their descendants have played in the United States. "It is important that we work to strengthen our relations with Caribbean governments," stated Lee. "It is also important that we address the concerns of Caribbean-Americans residing in our districts.
From 1820 to 2002, more than 68 million people emigrated from the Caribbean region to the United States. Caribbean-Americans have influenced every aspect of American culture, society and government. Their history is interwoven with ours."
Lee was first elected to the House of Representatives for the Ninth District of California in a 1998 special election to fill the seat of retiring Congressman Ron Dellums. Congresswoman Lee came to Washington after serving in the California State Assembly from 1990-1996 and the California State Senate from 1996-1998. Lee was born in El Paso, Texas. She moved from Texas to California in 1960 with her military family parents, and attended San Fernando High School, San Fernando, California. Lee was educated at Mills College and received an M.S.W. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1975