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Caribbean American Heritage Book



One of the seven key founding fathers of America, Alexander Hamilton, born in Nevis in 1755, and brought up until the age of 17 in St Croix, was also the first Secretary of the Treasury.


Alexander Hamilton

(1755 - 1804)

Founding Father of the United States

From the very beginning of US history Caribbean Americans were here.

In more modern times, the patterns of extraordinary achievements continue to be woven: Caribbean Americans were here as leaders in the fight for civil rights; were here to serve in national and state cabinets; were here to serve as elected officials at the local, city and county levels; and were major players in the development of a quintessential American art form, hip-hop. They have participated at the highest level in every sport including Baseball, Basketball, Athletics, Football, Gymnastics and Volley Ball.


The more recent of the eight Caribbean American Cabinet Members included in the book


Colin Powell

US Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff



Eric Holder

US Attorney General

Thomas Perez

US Secretary of Labor

Susan Rice

National Security Advisor

Two of the nine Caribbean American members of the US House of Representatives and one of the six US Senators profiled in the book.

Shirley Chisholm

First black woman elected to the US House of Representatives

Kamala Harris

First Caribbean American elected to the US Senate in 100 years


Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus


A sample of the numerous performance artistes whose bios are included in the book

Nicki Minaj


Bob Marley

In the performance arts, it is remarkable that such a small part of the world has produced the two divas of popular music– Rhianna with her Barbadian and Guyanese roots; and Nicki Minaj from Trinidad & Tobago. Bob Marley and reggae have been catapulted to international stardom


Harry Belafonte

Sidney Poitier


Born in the same year, 1927, the two grand old men ignited the stage and screen with their characteristically Caribbean charisma –Harry Belafonte (Jamaican and Martiniquan parents); and the first black Academy Award winner for Best Actor, Sidney Poitier (Bahamas).


Sonny Rollins

Saxophone Colossus

Oscar Peterson

Maharaja of the Keyboards


Incredibly at about the same time, two men both from the United States Virgin Islands transformed forever another quintessentially American music form, jazz, with their unique styles – “Saxophone Colossus,” Sonny Rollins, and the “Maharaja of the Keyboards,” Oscar Peterson.


Sam Mendes

Oscar for  Best Director with the film American Beauty

Steve McQueen

Oscar for Best Picture with the film 12 Years a Slave


Another world famous duo who have directed their way into the Academy Awards Hall of Fame to win Hollywood’s premier prize, the Oscar for Best Picture – Sam Mendes, with a Trinidadian father, and Steve McQueen of Trinidadian and Grenadian roots.


Sir Arthur Lewis

Nobel Prize winner in economics

Derek Walcott

Nobel Prize winner in literature

Prof Dr. Wayne

A.I. Frederick

President of Howard University

Caribbean Americans have also left a mark in education in the United States, with scholarly professors like the two St Lucia-born Nobel Prize winners, economist Sir Arthur Lewis, poet Derek Walcott, and Trinidad-born oncologist Dr. Wayne Frederick, president of Howard University.


Notorious B.I.G

Best Rap Artist 1995

Afrika Bambaata

One of the earliest to use breakbeat DJing

It is a little known fact that the Caribbean American contribution to Hip-Hop, Rap, R&B and DJing has been considerable.


Elayne Jones


Alyson Cambridge

Operatic Soprano

Caribbean Americans have even made the leap from Hip Hop to the world of classical music, with the likes of timpanist, Elayne Jones of Barbadian heritage, and operatic soprano, Alyson Cambridge, of Guyanese heritage.



Three of the 11 doctors and scientists featured in the book

Maxime Faget

One of the creators of the Mercury Spacecraft

Jan Ernst Matzeliger

Inventor of the Shoe Last

Dr Patricia Bath

Inventor of the Laserphaco Probe used in laser surgery of the eye

Another great leap was into the fields of science. One of the lead designers of the Mercury spacecraft was Belizean, Maxime Faget. Caribbean American inventors have made major strides in such diverse areas as the shoe industry (Jan Ernst Matzeliger’s invention of the shoe last in 1883), and laser surgery (Dr Patricia Bath’s patenting of the Laserphaco Probe for laser removal of cataracts).



Ursula M. Burns

Chairman/CEO of Xerox Corporation

Ann-Marie Campbell

Executive Vice President of US Stores at Home Depot

Americans with Caribbean roots have been operating at the very highest levels in the private sector for many years. Executives of Fortune 500 companies include Ursula M. Burns (Panamanian parents): and Chairman/CEO of Xerox, Jamaica-born Ann Marie Campbell, Southern Division President of Home Depot.


Ben Ali

Founder of the famous Ben's Chili Bowl in Washington DC

Dumarsais Mécène Siméus

Food Manufacturing Magnate

J. Bruce Llewellyn

Owner of one of the largest Coca Cola Franchises

Earl Graves

Owner of one of the largest Pepsi Cola Franchises and Founder and Publisher of Black Enterprise magazine

The list of entrepreneurs is equally impressive in many different economic sectors, such as food, where Ben Ali (Trinidad & Tobago), J. Bruce Llewellyn (Jamaica), Dumarsais Mécène Siméus (Haiti) and Lowell Hawthorne (Jamaica) have staked out their claim; Earl Graves (Barbados) in publishing; and even gambling where Casper Holstein was an ingenious innovator.



In returning to the topic of political activists, it is important to put to rest a popular misconception.


Caribbean Americans are sometimes perceived to benefit from the gains of the civil rights movement without having participated in it. It is believed that they have not paid their dues. The truth is the very opposite as Caribbean Americans have often taken a lead role in the fight against inequality.

Marcus Garvey

Malcolm X

Louis Farrakhan

Stokeley Carmichael/Sékou Turé

Some of the better known political activists with Caribbean roots include Marcus Garvey (Jamaica), Stokeley Carmichael/Sékou Turé, Malcolm X (Grenada), and Louis Farrakhan (Jamaica and St Kitts/Nevis).


Lester Holt

Anchor of NBC Nightly News

Gwen Ifill

Co-Anchor of PBS NewsHour

Al Roker

NBC Weather Anchor

Susan L. Taylor

Editor-in-Chief emeritus of Essence

Malcolm Gladwell

Author of the Tipping Point

In the field of journalism, Caribbean Americans who have excelled include Lester Holt (Jamaica), anchor of NBC Nightly News; Gwendolyn “Gwen” Ifill (Barbados and Panama), co-anchor and co-managing editor of PBS NewsHour; NBC weather anchor, actor and author Al Roker (Bahamas and Jamaica); Susan L. Taylor (Trinidad & Tobago and St Kitts & Nevis), Editor-In-Chief emeritus of Essence magazine; and best-selling journalist Malcolm Gladwell (Jamaica), who had all five of his books on The New York Times Best Seller List.



Kareem Abdul Jabbar

One of the Greatest in the History of Basketball

Ndamukong Suh

Highest paid Defensive Player in NFL History

Marion Jones

First Woman to win five Olympic track & field medals

Alex Rodriguez

Richest Contract in Baseball History

Sammy Sosa

Most NL Home Runs

Mary Joe Fernandez Godsick

Two Olympic Gold Medals in Tennis

Simone Biles

Four gold medals in gymnastics at the 2016 Olympics

Caribbean American Heritage: A History of High Achievers documents the contributions of Caribbean Americans.

The hope is to revive and keep alive their memory, and, in so doing, rekindle that feeling of self worth in Caribbean Americans and their descendants.

© Caribbean  American Heritage Book