Caribbean Matters: Honoring Shirley Chisholm for Caribbean Heritage Month

Caribbean Matters: Honoring Shirley Chisholm for Caribbean Heritage Month

In June 2005, the House of Representatives unanimously adopted H. Con. Res. 71, sponsored by Congresswoman Barbara Lee, which initiated the foundation of Caribbean American Heritage Month. Continuing what was established 2006, on May 31, 2024, President Joe Biden issued a proclamation celebrating the newly established holiday month.

While we often think of Caribbean Americans as modern-day immigrants or descendants of fairly recent immigrants, that overlooks earlier waves dating as far back as the time of enslavement. The Caribbean was used as a place for “seasoning” enslaved people before being sold to slaveholders in the United States. A look at Gwendolyn Midlo Hall’s enslavement database will illustrate the Caribbean point of origin of many enslaved people who arrived via southern ports. 

Later waves would come in via multiple ports of entry—for example, when we hear “Ellis Island” we tend to think of European migration, however a look at their records shows that tens of thousands of Caribbean people came through their portal. 

Caribbean Matters is a weekly series from Daily Kos. If you are unfamiliar with the region, check out Caribbean Matters: Getting to know the countries of the Caribbean.

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