South Floridians celebrate Caribbean Heritage Month

Caribbean Heritage Month brings out many South Florida cultures

By Neki Mohan - Anchor/Reporter

MIAMI - Caribbean Americans have been a part of South Florida's history from the very beginning. The culture is intertwined with South Florida's flavor.

Jamaican-born attorney Marlon Hill is a leader in Caribbean Diaspora in South Florida and serves on many boards for civic and cultural events.

"Well over 100 years ago, Bahamians signed the charter for the city of Miami, we worked in the cane fields of West Palm Beach," said Hill. "You can't go to a hospital here and not find someone of Caribbean descent."

Bahamians were the first to arrive in South Florida because of their proximity to the US. Academy award winning actor Sidney Poitier was born in Miami. When his mom and dad were visiting from the Bahamas, he grew up on Cat Island, Florida.

Congresswoman Fredericka Wilson's ancestors are from the Bahamas.

Haitian-Americans are the largest groups of Caribbean groups here today, followed by Jamaicans. Other significant groups living in South Florida hail from Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Aruba, Curacao, Barbados, St. Lucia, Belize and many, many more.

While islands like Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic are in the Caribbean, natives often identify more with Hispanic Culture.

"Well over 500,000 people are of Haitian descent, well over 300 thousand people of Jamaican, followed by thousands from other countries live here now," said Hill.

As more Caribbean natives become citizens and have families, they are electing more Caribbean-Americans to political office. Cities like Lauderhill, Miramar and North Miami are examples of that.

In 2006, former U.S. President George W. Bush signed a proclamation making June Caribbean American Heritage Month and since then it is celebrated nationwide.

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