Special to South Florida Times
FORT LAUDERDALE —During a 1985 visit to Miami-Dade County, Jerome Hutchinson Jr. heard something at the time he thought remarkable: Blacks speaking English but with accents that were distinctly non-American.
Hutchinson was hearing the voices of the English-speaking Caribbean Diaspora which, anecdotally, number a few hundred thousand in the tri-county area today.
Flash forward to Feb. 15, 2012 and the lobby of BankAtlantic’s corporate offices in Fort Lauderdale. That is where Hutchinson, president and CEO of ICABA Media Holdings LLC, announced that his company will recognize Caribbean Americans with a coffee table-worthy publication to be called ICABA Salutes South Florida’s 100 Most Accomplished Caribbean Americans. The 300- to 350-page full-color glossy publication will debut at a June 29 reception at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.
“This book will be one of the biggest we have produced so far,” said Hutchinson, whose company recently identified and published a book about South Florida’s most accomplished black executives, professional and academicians.
Its latest publication will include individuals who could have heritage from any of 28 Caribbean island nations, though U.S. citizenship and residency are required.
Hutchinson said the idea started germinating about two years ago and took root a year or so later.
“I have honored Caribbean Americans in other publications but have never focused totally on this community,” he said. “I knew way back that I wanted to do something.”
Already the publisher, which prides itself on identifying, connecting and celebrating accomplished blacks in South Florida, has lined up support from several islands consulates
and community leaders. Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness, along with Jamaican Consul General Sandra Grant-Griffiths, Haiti Consul General Francois Guillaume and Bahamas Consul General Rhoda Jackson, attended the kickoff reception and announcement.
“The Caribbean is the gateway to the Americas and there has been a migration to the South Florida area since the 1920s,” Grant-Griffiths pointed out. “So it’s nice to see that individuals who have been making significant contributions be recognized in this way.”
The book will feature a picture and short biography of each of the 100 identified persons, as well as that person’s country of origin. Those mentioned will be listed according to categories of Academicians/Educators; Community and Spiritual Leaders; Corporate Executives; Elected/Appointed Officials; Entrepreneurs; Healthcare; Legal; Rising Stars; and Sports/Media/Arts/Entertainment.
A Steering Committee will identify individuals and evaluate professional accomplishments. Nominations may be made at icabaworld.com, the media company’s social website, but ICABA’s editorial staff will make final selections.
The book’s foreward will be written by South Florida attorney and community activist Marlon Hill. When Hill heard of the proposed publication, he immediately lent his support to it. In the foreward, he plans to tell the story of how all the people with Caribbean heritage are tied by a region yet still have their own national individuality.
“I want everyone, whether you are in Lauderhill or Miami Gardens — especially young people — to pick up this book and see themselves in the pages,” Hill said.
Carolyn Guniss may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: Jerome Hutchinson Jr.