Special to South Florida Times
FORT LAUDERDALE — Caribbean Americans make a huge impact on and many contributions to South Florida. But according to Jerome Hutchinson, their accomplishments have gone without recognition in a way that “spans across the entire Caribbean community.”
Hutchinson, president and CEO of ICABA, has recognized 100 professionals from South Florida’s Caribbean community for their accomplishments and contributions to society with the publication, ICABA Salutes South Florida’s 100 Most Accomplished Caribbean Americans.
The publication was released during the June 29 black-tie event at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale.
ICABA is a South Florida-based company with a mission that matches its acronymic name: Identify, Connect, and Activate the Black Accomplished.
Its vision is to establish a global multimedia environment in which accomplished black professionals and entrepreneurs can develop productive relationships, pursue opportunities, and share relevant information that supports their goals, aspirations and lifestyles, according to its website.
“It’s clear that Caribbean Americans are making a big impact on South Florida,” said Hutchinson. His publication highlights the accomplishments of individuals with heritage from any of 28 Caribbean island nations. U.S. citizenship and residency were a requirement.
“We had more than 300 nominations making it difficult to take it down to 100,” said Hutchinson. “And we are very proud of the men and women selected to represent those who have a history of outstanding accomplishments.”
Individuals highlighted in the directory include Nelson Adams, physician, community leader and minister (Bahamas); Marleine Bastiene, women’s rights activists (Haiti); Carol Anne Taylor, entrepreneur (Barbados); Carol Boyce-Davies, author and academic professor (Trinidad and Tobago); and Patrick Cha Fong, entrepreneur (Jamaica).
“The process of learning who we are and what we can accomplish begins with recognition,” said Miami attorney Marlon Hill, who penned the directory’s foreword. “Tonight represents just a slice of the story to be told about our history here … it evolves over generations.”
The black community is the most diverse and vibrant in the U.S., Hill, from Jamaica, said. “When we recognize the power of culture, we will then recognize our power as a people.”
Among all of South Florida’s assets, “the greatest is our diversity,” said Russell Benford, Miami-Dade County deputy mayor, in an interview during the event. “It’s a wonderful thing to celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of Caribbean Americans. The value this adds to our culture cannot be understated.”
SPARK OF CHANGE
For Charlotte Harrison, the event proved that “we don’t add up to what the media says about us. To be in the presence of like-minded blacks who are on a mission and have proven track records, there are no words.”
Harrison, a retired educator, said that events “such as this should carry over into our schools. When I think of the spark these people could ignite, I see a change in the future of our youth. I’m just proud of everyone here and am happy that I was just visiting South Florida at the right time and could attend.”
Cynthia Roby may be reached at CynthiaRoby@bellsouth.net
Photo: Jerome Hutchinson Jr., ICABA president & CEO