With Columbus Day shortly behind us, one can continue to thank him and his peers for the discovery of another beautiful country: following his location of other Caribbean islands, in 1493 Christopher Columbus reached Guadeloupe -- originally called Karukera (“island of beautiful waters”) by the Caribs.
Guadeloupians, who claim to be “so French, yet undeniably Caribbean”, surely have a vibrant presence in New York City. The “Destination Guadelope” New York Festival manifests itself in the city each year, featuring culinary, artistic, and musical exposés from the island. Venues like the West Village's SOB’s showcase the vibrant Guadeloupian culture. The nightclub starts of its events with a traditional dinner and cocktails experience by a chef uniquely flown in from the island, paired with jazz, zouk, and mazurka performances -- truly an authentic Guadeloupian experience.
In addition, June 1st of this year marked the start of Caribbean Week in New York. Presented by the Caribbean Tourism Organization, this week provided the Guadeloupe Islands Tourist Board with a marketplace to promote its new ‘Let Me Show You My Islands’ campaign, enlisting supermodel Willy Fromet as its US ambassador.
Tourism aside, for the past five years, June is officially recognized as National Caribbean-American Heritage Month. According to the Brooklyn State Senator, "It is impossible to imagine New York and particularly Brooklyn without the vibrant presence of the 600,000 immigrants of Caribbean descent who are our families, friends and treasured partners in the prosperity and quality of life of our community. Since the first wave of Caribbean-American immigrants came to our shores through Ellis Island, they have maintained a strong cultural distinctiveness. For these pioneers, developing an identity was a difficult task but believing in an America where people can exist in their own selfhood yet find a common ground based on respect, they constructed an environment of social equality. Since then they have enriched this country socially, economically and politically with their sterling contributions. In recognizing June as Caribbean American Heritage Month we celebrate the collective contributions they have made to the global family."