Yesterday the President issued a proclamation announcing June as Caribbean American Heritage Month, only five days after it had officially started.
Noting that, “for centuries, Caribbean Americans have enriched our society and added to the strength of America,” the President went on to say that, “They [Caribbean’s] have been leaders in government, sports, entertainment, the arts, and many other fields.”
Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland), author of legislation approved by both houses of Congress had urged the President to make June Caribbean-American Heritage Month, on June 1.
“Today, June 1st, 2006, communities across the country are launching commemorative celebrations of the inaugural national Caribbean-American Heritage Month. From our nation's inception, the Caribbean-American community has played an important role in our history, culture, and government.
“In the 109th Congress both the House and Senate unanimously adopted H. Con. Res. 71 to support designating June as National Caribbean-American Heritage Month. A wide, bipartisan coalition of Members of Congress - including Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), Representative Henry Hyde (R-IL), Senator Mel Martinez (R-FL), and Representative Dan Burton (R-IL) -- and national organizations hailed the movement. And in March, Secretary Rice joined with the Caribbean Foreign Affairs Minister to honor this achievement.”
“I sincerely hope that the President will follow suit by commemorating the Caribbean-American community as he has the African-American, Hispanic, Irish-American, Asian Pacific-Islander, Native American Indian, American Jewish, German-American, and many other communities. The diversity of our country and the designation of June as Caribbean-American Heritage Month should be an achievement celebrated by all.”
The President responded yesterday issuing the following proclamation:
“During Caribbean-American Heritage Month, we celebrate the great contributions of Caribbean Americans to the fabric of our Nation, and we pay tribute to the common culture and bonds of friendship that unite the United States and the Caribbean countries.”
“Our Nation has thrived as a country of immigrants, and we are more vibrant and hopeful because of the talent, faith, and values of Caribbean Americans. For centuries, Caribbean Americans have enriched our society and added to the strength of America. They have been leaders in government, sports, entertainment, the arts, and many other fields.”
“During the month of June, we also honor the friendship between the United States and the Caribbean countries. We are united by our common values and shared history, and I join all Americans in celebrating the rich Caribbean heritage and the many ways in which Caribbean Americans have helped shape this Nation.”
“NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2006 as Caribbean-American Heritage Month. I encourage all Americans to learn more about the history of Caribbean Americans and their contributions to our Nation.”
“IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifth day of June, in the year of our Lord two thousand six, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirtieth.”
Other notables of Caribbean descent include: the Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally, who was the first foreign born member of the United States Congress, Marcus Garvey, Sidney Poitier, Colin Powell, Cicely Tyson, Sheryl Lee Ralph, and Shirley Chisolm.
For more information, you can visit www.caribbeanamericanmonth.org.