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Senate Approves Bill to declare June Caribbean American Heritage Month

WASHINGTON, DC – On Tuesday, February 14, the US Senate approved House Concurrent Resolution declaring JUNE as Caribbean American Heritage Month.

The Campaign to Recognize JUNE as National Caribbean American Heritage Month had a successful launch on June 1, 2004, in the Rayburn House Building on Capitol Hill at a Reception hosted by the Institute of Caribbean Studies, Campaign Chair and leading supporters of the Bill.

With over 100 people in attendance Congresswoman Barbara Lee, sponsor of the Bill talked about why such a Bill is important to the process of empowerment for the Caribbean American Community. Ambassador Denis Antoine, of Grenada, and Dean of the Caribbean Diplomatic Corps commended the efforts and urged the gathering to work together to make it a reality.

Between 2004 and 2005, the Campaign gained steam with several Caribbean community organizations signing on as supporters of the Bill. These included e.g. the Caribbean Association of Industry of Commerce, the Dominica Academy of Arts & Sciences, the Caribbean.

Foundations for the National Bill began as a result of the first White House Briefing to the Caribbean Community in 1999; the Institute of Caribbean Studies (ICS) had been pushing for recognition of a National Caribbean American Heritage Month, through the Clinton White House. In the meantime, under the auspices of the AdHoc DC Caribbean Council, Washington DC passed a Bill declaring JUNE as Caribbean American Heritage Month in the nation’s capital.

When the AdHoc Council disbanded, recognition of Caribbean American Heritage Month in Washington continued under the leadership of the Institute of Caribbean Studies. ICS formed coalitions with TransAfrica Forum, the Caribbean Association of the World Bank and Fund, and the Caribbean Professional Networking Series to organize events in the metropolitan area.

In 2003, working with the Office of Congresswoman Barbara Lee, ICS helped to craft language for a Bill declaring June as National Caribbean American Heritage Month, which was first introduced by Congresswoman Barbara Lee in 2004. The Bill was re-introduced in 2005 as House Concurrent Resolution 71. Working together, ICS and the Office of Congresswoman Lee crafted a strategy for its passage; launching outreach to Caribbean community leaders across the nation. The Bill has passed the Floor of the House in June 26th and passed the Senate by Unanimous consent on February 14, 2006. The Bill now awaits a Presidential Proclamation.

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