It's June! Let's Celebrate Caribbean Heritage Month!

Traditional Caribbean fruit street vendors.

June is a wonderful time of the year! The western hemisphere enjoys the beginning of summer, the end of school, blooming flowers, and endless outdoor activities. Along with these exciting opportunities, June also brings the beginning of Caribbean Heritage Month.

A family enjoys snorkeling and swimming around fish.

In 2006, President Bush declared June as Caribbean Heritage Month in the United States. Each June, U.S. citizens appreciate and honor the history and culture of the Caribbean people and recognize their contributions to U.S. society.

RootsTech wants to honor and celebrate Caribbean culture and people with videos about their cuisine, music, culture, and history. And of course, as RootsTech is the world's largest genealogy conference—with hundreds of videos online and available for free—we also have tips and tricks on how to find more about your own Caribbean family history.

Caribbean Heritage Videos

Situated along the coasts of the Caribbean Sea, Haiti boasts a balmy, tropical climate, perfect for growing many delicious fruits and vegetables. Let's take a look at some of these tasty Haitian foods!
Sharon Tomlin delves into ways we can research African-Caribbean female ancestry. Encouraging dialogue across the generations to understand the pioneers of the past and to discover the pioneers within their own family.
Many people have discovered they have relatives who settled many years ago in Jamaica. By the end of this session, you will be able to start tracing your Jamaican ancestor.
This class will demonstrate and discuss family history research resources for Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic. You will learn about online resources as well as archive holdings for these beautiful island nations.
Learn how to use these great resources to learn about your Jamaican ancestry: Jamaican history as it applies to genealogical research; the FamilySearch Research Wiki as a guide for family history research and archives in Jamaica, where records are held, and how to obtain them; and more.
This class will show you how to find your Puerto Rican ancestors and add photos, stories, and memories about them to create rich discovery experiences for others.

What Countries Are Included in Caribbean Heritage Month?

The Caribbean has a very rich heritage. Each of its many different countries and territories come with its own history, traditions, and culture. Here are 13 countries that are generally acknowledged to be part of the Caribbean:

  1. Antigua and Barbuda
  2. Bahamas 
  3. Barbados 
  4. Cuba
  5. Dominica 
  6. Dominican Republic
  7. Grenada 
  8. Haiti 
  9. Saint Kitts and Nevis
  10. Jamaica
  11. Saint Lucia
  12. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  13. Trinidad and Tobago
Map of the Caribbean.
Demis map server, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Did you know that the Caribbean has 23 UNESCO World Heritage Sites?

Caribbeans in America

The first Caribbeans came to the U.S. in the 19th Century. Most of them came to work in agriculture. Some came as political exiles from Cuba. Since then, the U.S. has welcomed many other immigrants from the Caribbean. Among them have been many talented craftsmen, poets, doctors, inventors, and other individuals who helped shape the U.S. as it is known today.

Here are just a few Caribbean-Americans that have made an impact on the U.S.:

Portrait of Alexander Hamilton by John Trumbull.
John Trumbull, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

  • Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury.
  • Colin Powell, former Secretary of State.
  • Cicely Tyson, actress.
  • W.E.B. Du Bois, civil rights activist.
  • James Weldon Johnson, writer and civil rights activist.
  • Harry Belafonte, singer.
  • Sidney Poitier, actor.
  • Celia Cruz, singer.
  • Roberto Clemente, baseball player.

The U.S. Caribbean-American population in 2019 was nearly 13.4 million people. Are there any among your friends or family?

Caribbean Culture

The Caribbean is a melting pot of many vibrant cultures, including influences from native Caribbeans, European colonizers, and Africans.

Food is an integral part of Caribbeans' lives and plays a vital role in family relationships. Usually, the food is prepared by several family members and is shared with extended family as a social activity. In the Caribbean, food helps tighten family bonds.

The Caribbean is the birthplace of many musical genres, such as reggae, calypso, soca, and dancehall. Music is very popular throughout the islands. Carnivals also play a huge part in the Caribbean music scene with a perfect blend of colors, music, and costumes.

There is an immense spiritual diversity that reflects the multiple origins of this heritage. In some islands, the predominant religions are Catholicism, Protestantism, Hinduism, and Islam. Some religious elements link Caribbeans to their African past, such as Voodoo, Santeria, and Rastafarianism.

Sports are also a big thing in the Caribbean. In fact, 14 countries from the Caribbean have won medals in the Olympics. One of the most loved sports in the Caribbean is cricket, likely because it was the first activity brought by the English colonizers. Cricket originally spread to the West Indies from the British military that united the territories. Other acclaimed sports for the Caribbean people include baseball, soccer, horse racing, polo, netball, and boxing.

Caribbean Heritage Month

The unique culture, history, and traditions of the Caribbean provide one of the most amazing and vibrant blends of cultural heritage in the world. Caribbean Heritage Month is a wonderful opportunity to remind everyone about the rich and diverse culture that can be found in today's world.

Puerto Rico Articles

Traditional Puerto Rican food has been influenced by Spain, Africa and the Taíno and Arawak native peoples. The rich and vibrant cuisine is a mix of indigenous fruits, tropical tubers, and unique seasonings. There's a lot to learn about Puerto Rican food and how it's prepared.
December 25, 2020
Puerto Rico is a beautiful Caribbean island off the coast of the Dominican Republic. Surrounded by blue seas and with a landscape of mountains, waterfalls, and even a tropical rain forest, it is home to over 3 million people. Learn more about Puerto Rico to discover your Puerto Rican heritage.
December 18, 2020
Throughout history, large groups of people have migrated from their homelands and settled in new areas. If you have Puerto Rican ancestors, it’s likely that your ancestors moved during the Puerto Rican diaspora.

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