Although West Indians have made up a relatively small part of immigrants who have come to the United States, notable West Indian communities have arisen in New York and Florida. Their places of origin are close to the southernmost part of the United States and they have a comparatively long history of immigrating to the United States.
The many small countries of the Caribbean make up the West Indies. There are some variations in the use of the term “West Indian,” but the expression most frequently describes people in the English-speaking Caribbean islands. This region encompasses inhabitants of Anguilla,
Although West Indians have constituted one of the smaller immigrant groups in the United States, they have a fairly long history of immigration as a result of the geographic proximity of the Caribbean. Between 1900 and 1920, immigrants from the West Indies living in the United States increased from only about 10,000 to more than 53,000. One of the best-known West Indians who immigrated during this period was the black nationalist leader
The West Indian population of the United States grew to nearly 79,000 by 1930. It then dropped dramatically to around 26,000 in 1940, and rose back up to about 38,000 in 1950. Numbers of West Indians increased over the 1950’s to just over 100,000 in 1960 and then to 165,000 in 1970. The numbers of West Indians again increased rapidly after the early 1970’s. By 1980, the West Indian immigrant population was close to 377,000. In 1990, the total reached 697,000, 1 million in 2000, and 1,174,000 in 2007.
West Indians worked in a variety of occupations during the early twenty-first century. They were especially well represented in medical
Most West Indians are of African ancestry, but some are descendants of people from India who settled in the Caribbean during the era of the British Empire. The Indian presence in the Caribbean is most evident in
Alvarez, Julia. How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents. Chapel Hill, N.C.: Algonquin Books, 1991. Foner, Nancy, ed. Islands in the City: West Indian Migration to New York. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001. Vickerman, Milton. Crosscurrents: West Indian Immigration and Race. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. Waters, Mary C. Black Identities: West Indian Immigrant Dreams and American Realities. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999.
African Americans and immigrants
New York City
Puerto Rican immigrants
Universal Negro Improvement Association