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Celebrate Caribbean American Heritage Month

In 2019, more than 4.5 million Caribbean immigrants lived in the United States, many of whom have found themselves seeking a better life in the United States. There are 13 countries in the Caribbean and 17 territories home to various walks of life.

June is Caribbean American Heritage Month, and it's important that we take some time to walk through history and educate ourselves about how the people of this culture have impacted the world around them.

Historical Facts and Tidbits

In 1492, Christopher Columbus was noted to have landed on what is known as the Caribbean Islands. Although Columbus found the islands to be beautiful, history tells us that this exploration era was more beneficial for Columbus and other explorers because they were in search of a direct water route from the West. Columbus sought to use the resources found to benefit Europe, including the use of its people as slaves that could work on sugar plantations.

This thought led to the transport of slaves in 1494, contributing to the African slave trade. Fast-forward to 1886, when slavery in Cuba was abolished. While it was officially abolished around this time, Cuba decided in 1867 to stop actively participating in the slave trade. The indentured servitude system that was in place was also outlawed as illegal.

June is also the month we celebrate Juneteenth, when news reached African Americans living in Galveston, Texas, that slavery was officially over on June 19, 1865. This year, we celebrate Juneteenth on Monday, June 19. There are several ways to acknowledge this celebration while learning more about how slavery and its impact touched every part of the world. For a deeper dive into the historical significance of Juneteenth and ways to celebrate this monumental moment, look for our upcoming Juneteenth blog.

Declaration of Caribbean American Heritage Month

June hasn't always been known as Caribbean American Heritage Month; it was recently declared so by former President George W. Bush in 2006. This happened because Bush wanted to ensure that the contributions made by Caribbean Americans were nationally recognized.

The road to getting the month recognized as Caribbean American Heritage Month started in 2004 with the campaign being pushed by Dr. Claire A. Nelson. She headed various events relating to her Caribbean Studies, including Caribbean American Community Briefings and the Caribbean American Heritage Awards Ceremony.

Dr. Nelson worked tirelessly to lobby for national recognition of Caribbean Americans’ heritage. In 2005, her dedication paid off when the U.S. House of Representatives officially passed the bill recognizing the historical contributions of Caribbean Americans.

Ways to Celebrate Caribbean American Heritage Month

If you want to join the others celebrating this month, you're in luck because there are many ways to do so! Do you enjoy getting to spend time outside with friends and family? If so, consider setting aside some time to play one of the most popular sports in the Caribbean: football.

Football, otherwise known as soccer to those living in the States, is a great way to exercise and have fun with those you're close to. Another common way to celebrate the month is to fill the air with various forms of music that Caribbean musicians and artists have heavily influenced. Some popular genres include bachata, calypso, ragga, zouk, and many more. Trust us — you’ll be tapping your feet and swaying to the beat coming out of your speakers in no time!

If you love to eat, you could try out some of the different Caribbean recipes, but be warned that they carry quite a bit of spice. One such recipe is called Mannish Water. It's a soup with goat pieces combined with yams, potatoes, green bananas, dumplings, and various seasonings.

Conch ceviche is another truly delicious recipe. It has conch meat, tomatoes, and scotch bonnet peppers known for bringing the heat out in every dish they're included in. If you're looking for something with a punch, this is the dish to choose! Of course, if you aren't fond of the heat, you can add other sweet fruits to balance the flavor.

Check out other exciting Gallopade blogs filled with helpful information and resources for your reading pleasure!


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