June has been officially recognized as National Caribbean American Heritage Month since 2006 as a result of the efforts of U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and a proclamation by President George W. Bush.
The holiday holds a special meaning to New York City—and especially Queens—as many people have immigrated to the five boroughs from the Caribbean islands and made their mark on the city. At least six members of the Queens delegation were either born in the Caribbean or have parents who hailed from the islands.
And a number of persons of Caribbean descent have played prominent roles in our nation’s history as secretary of state (Colin Powell) and attorney general (Eric Holder). In 1972, Shirley Chisholm—a congresswoman for Brooklyn of Guyanese descent—became the first African American to run for a major party’s nomination and a number of artists and activists have moved to the United States from places such as Jamaica, Nevis, Trinidad and Haiti.
On June 2, the PRESS of Southeast Queens will honor seven people during its first-ever Caribbean American Legacy Awards—including a state senator, record company president, CEO of a Caribbean American chamber of commerce, founder of an arts organization for children, a deputy inspector with the city’s Police Department and two bank executives.
While each of the PRESS’ honorees can be credited with notable achievements in their respective fields, all of them also talk about the importance of giving back to their communities—both in New York City and the Caribbean.
As part of heritage month, the PRESS pays tribute to thousands of people from the Caribbean islands who left their home countries to start anew in the five boroughs. Many of them have achieved great things, all the while contributing to the diversity of Queens—which boasts a large Caribbean population—and giving back to their respective neighborhoods.