Ms. RICHARDSON. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of H. Res. 289, which celebrates June as Caribbean American Heritage Month and recognizes the significant contributions of Caribbean Americans that have made strengthened our country and made it better.
This month also marks the 50th anniversaries of independence for the Caribbean nations of Jamaica and of Trinidad and Tobago. Although a half century has passed since they gained their independence, the struggle they waged to win their freedom still stands as a testament to the ideals of our own great nation.
I am privileged to represent a large segment of Los Angeles County, which is home to the second largest foreign-born population of any major metropolitan area. There are an estimated 500,000 Americans of Caribbean heritage living, working, and enriching the quality of life in Southern California.
Mr. Speaker, Americans of Caribbean heritage have made a positive impact on virtually every aspect of American life, including the arts, science, business, education, athletics, military, and government. For example, in the area of government and public affairs America has benefitted from the contributions of Colin Powell, a former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice; former Members of Congress Mervyn Dymally of California, and Shirley Chisholm of New York, and current Congresswoman Yvette Clarke of New York; Kamala Harris, the Attorney General of California; and Maryland Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown.
American art and culture has been enriched by the legendary performances of Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, Cicely Tyson, and Sheryl Lee Ralph; the writings of authors W.E.B. DuBois and Malcolm Gladwell; the music of Grace Jones, Gil Scott-Heron, and Christopher Wallace, ``The Notorious B.I.G.''; and the prowess of great athletes like Carl Lewis, Tim Duncan, Patrick Ewing, Sandra Richards-Ross, Dwight Freeney, and Ndamukong Suh.
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased that on June 29 the Caribbean Heritage Organization will be holding the 2012 Caribbean Heritage Salute to Hollywood and the Stars gala in Los Angeles honoring industry stalwarts Sheryl Lee Ralph, Antonio Fargas, Lorraine Toussaint, and Rob Edwards.
I also wish to recognize the leadership of the Institute of Caribbean Studies. The ICS has been very effective in advocating on behalf of the Caribbean American community and each year it hosts a Legislative Conference Week as part of the month long celebration. The conference focuses the attention of policy makers and experts on issues of particular concern to the Caribbean American community such as trade, job creation and economic empowerment, Haitian disaster relief and economic reconstruction. I congratulate the ICS, the Caribbean Heritage Organization in my home county of Los Angeles, and the many community organizations and volunteers across the nation for their efforts in making Caribbean American Heritage Month the success that it is.
During this month I hope all Americans will join with me in celebrating the remarkable history, culture, and contributions of Caribbean Americans to our nation's past and future.