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Celebrating Caribbean American Trailblazers

Headshots of Charles Reason, Antonia Novello, Colin Powell and A. Philip Randolph
Charls Reason, Antonia Novello, Colin Powell and A. Philip Randolph

During the month of June, we celebrate Caribbean Americans pioneers and advocates. Whether by blazing a trail in a new field or advocating for civil rights, equality and better working conditions, they’ve helped make America’s workplaces better for all workers.

Charles L. Reason was born in 1818, in New York City, to Haitian and Guadaloupean parents. Reason was the first black college professor in the United States, teaching at the integrated New York Central College from 1849 to 1852. In 1847, he co-founded the Society for the Promotion of Education among Colored Children, and he devoted his life to education and the abolition of slavery and segregation.

A. Philip Randolph was born in 1889, in Florida, to Jamaican parents. After witnessing wage disparity and unsafe working conditions for Black Pullman Porters, Randolph helped organize the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the nation’s first predominantly Black labor union. For his efforts to improve wages and working conditions for all workers, his commitment to democratic principles, and his work to end racial discrimination and oppression, he was inducted into the Labor Hall of Honor in 1989.

Born in 1924 to a Guyanese American father and a Barbadian American mother in New York, Shirley Chisholm was a groundbreaking politician and an outspoken advocate for equality. She was the first Black candidate for a major American party’s presidential nomination and the first Black woman elected to the U.S. Congress, a position she held for 14 years.

Dr. Antonia Novello was born in 1944, in Fajardo, Puerto Rico. She served as the U.S. Attorney General from 1990 to 1993 under President George Bush, making her the first person of Latin American descent and the first woman to do so.

Colin Luther Powell was born in New York in 1937 to Jamaican immigrants. After growing up in the South Bronx, Powell attended the City College of New York, where he participated in ROTC, leading the precision drill team and attaining the top rank offered by the corps, cadet colonel. He was the first African American appointed as the U.S. Secretary of State and the first, and so far the only, to serve on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Dr. Roy Hastick was born in Grenada in 1950 and migrated to the United States in 1972. He served as an elected delegate to the White House Conference on Small Business and as a special delegate to the United Nations. In 1985, he founded the Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry, whose mission is to promote economic development and small business services.

Through the leadership of these individuals and others like them, we’ve seen expanded opportunities and better working conditions for all of America’s workers.

Alaysia Black Hackett is the chief diversity and equity officer for the U.S. Department of Labor.

Sourced from Us Dept of Labor

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