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Caribbean Immigrants

By Jaystar12 Feb 27, 2013 480 Words
Caribbean Immigrants to New York/Us

In the early 1900s the largest number of black immigrants were English-speaking Caribbean (West Indians) who settled in the Northeast, mainly in New York City. These immigrants were only 1.3 percent of the NYC population and faced intense racism, but by 1923 they became a 12.7 percent of the city’s population. Many of these immigrants were young, unmarried men. According to Winston James, a few women arrived and held occupations as teachers, doctors, lawyers, and craftsmen. James also comments that many of these immigrants had literacy levels above American blacks and even some whites. In New York, many Caribbean immigrants entered the service sector working as doorman, laborers, and porters. Women often worked in the domestic field as maids and nannies. Reminders points out that a substantial number of Caribbean immigrants attended night school and pursued higher education while in America. New York City also witnessed the institution building of Caribbean blacks. Majority of Caribbean were Anglican and after being denied entry into white Episcopal churches, they formed Black Episcopalian churches such as Saint Augustine and Christ Church Cathedral in Brooklyn. In Harlem, West Indian Methodist and Episcopalian churches thrived. West Indians also developed non-religious institutions with the purpose of fostering mutual benefits societies. The intention of these organizations was financially and socially assist “newcomers” or recent immigrants. Membership was based on the immigrant’s country of origin. Some of these groups include the Bermuda Benevolent Association (founded 1897), the Sons and Daughters of Barbados, Trinidad Benevolent Association, and the Grenada Mutual Association. Perhaps the most well-known Caribbean emigrant of the 20th century was Jamaican-born Marcus Garvey who came to America and established his organization, Universal Negro Improvement Association (U.N.I.A.). This organization was based on Black Nationalism that promoted the economic development of blacks. Garvey’s program gained widespread support of many Caribbean and native-born blacks. Winston James shows that many West Indians wanted UNIA to move beyond economic emphasis and to overtly oppose racism that they faced on a daily basis as black immigrants. Radical West Indians, like Hubert Harrison (a Virgin Islander), wanted to do away with what they believed to be a racist capitalist society. Theses politically radical West Indian immigrants vied for socialism. The African Blood Brothers was founded by Caribbean in 1919 and was an organization the combined socialism and Black Nationalism. However, this organization never gained a substantial following. Evidence shows that most West Indians who were able to attain citizenship voted for the Democratic Party because of its economic assistance programs. In New York, as black Caribbean immigrants began to grow in size, a small number ran for political offices. During the 1930s and the Depression era, Caribbean immigration trailed off and fewer black immigrants traveled to New York City because of the scarcity of employment opportunities.[1]

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