On June 21, Council member Marqueece Harris-Dawson hosted the Inaugural Caribbean Heritage Recognition Day at the Los Angeles City Council to honor dignitaries representing consulates from nine different countries and presidents of prominent Caribbean nonprofits.
“Los Angeles is home to nearly 40,000 immigrants from the Caribbean,” said Councilmember Harris-Dawson. “This does not include people from the U.S. Virgin Islands, this does not include people from the island of Puerto Rico, both of which are U.S. territories. When you take that together, you have a very significant community here in Los Angeles. This impacts the restaurants we go to, the music we listen to, and the very operation of the city we call home.”
“As someone with in-laws and family in the Caribbean, I feel a strong connection to the region and was thrilled to help recognize Caribbean Heritage Month and bring the celebration to City Hall,” said Councilmember Bob Blumenfield, who joined Councilmember Harris-Dawson in the presentation.
Councilmember Harris-Dawson gave a special presentation recognizing the significance of Caribbean heritage. During his presentation, Hollywood Carnival performers surprised the audience in stunning costumes and danced to Caribbean music. Lunch was provided by Derrick’s Jamaican Cuisine, a local South LA restaurant.
“We embrace and encourage ‘One World, One People’ by promoting unity and diversity in our community’s true cultural awareness,” said Dr. Harold Ganga, Chairman of the Los Angeles Cultural Festival, which hosts the largest carnival parade in the city.
In June 2005, Congresswoman Barbara Lee introduced a Resolution to recognize the significance of Caribbean people and their descendants. In 2006, the White House first recognized National Caribbean Heritage Month. This year, for the first time, the Los Angeles City Council also recognized and celebrated those of Caribbean heritage who reside in and contribute to the City of Los Angeles. However, the contributions and achievements of Caribbean-Americans extend much further back.The more prominent individuals of Caribbean heritage include Marcus Garvey (Jamaica), Toussaint L‘Ouverture (Haiti), Thomas Alexander Dumas (Haiti), Frantz Fanon (Martinique) Alexander Hamilton (Nevis), Bob Marley (Jamaica), Celia Cruz (Cuba), Sonia Sotomayor (Puerto Rico), Neil deGrasse Tyson (Puerto Rico/Nevis), Malcolm X (Grenada), Usain Bolt (Jamaica), Rihanna (Barbados), and many others.