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Caribbean American Heritage Book
SAMPLE OF THE CONTENTS OF THE 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.
(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
US Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
US Attorney General
US Secretary of Labor
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.
First black woman elected to the US House of Representatives
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
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
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).
Maharaja of the Keyboards
OSCAR FOR BEST PICTURE
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.
Oscar for Best Director with the film American Beauty
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
Nobel Prize winner in literature
Prof Dr. Wayne
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.
HIP-HOP, RAP AND DJING
Best Rap Artist 1995
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.
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
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).
PRIVATE SECTOR LEADERSHIP
Ursula M. Burns
Chairman/CEO of Xerox Corporation
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.
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
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.
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).
Anchor of NBC Nightly News
Co-Anchor of PBS NewsHour
NBC Weather Anchor
Susan L. Taylor
Editor-in-Chief emeritus of Essence
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
Highest paid Defensive Player in NFL History
First Woman to win five Olympic track & field medals
Richest Contract in Baseball History
Most NL Home Runs
Mary Joe Fernandez Godsick
Two Olympic Gold Medals in Tennis
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