Pauline J. Ford- Jamaica
Immediate Past President
Rafael Brathwaite- Panama
Stephanie Hunter Esq. - Jamaica
Karisa Morris -Jamaica
Rehana Perry- Guyana
Janet Hamm- USA
Pauline Jolly PhD-Jamaica
Stephanie Hunter Esq. - Jamaica
Brent Pierre, MBA -Trinidad
The dream of CACAO began in 2010 with an idea shared among friends. At the time Founder Pauline Ford knew of only 3 Jamaicans and one Trinidadian in Birmingham, but had been informed that there were several other Caribbean people who had been living in the area for a number of years. With encouragement primarily from Ms. Ford's friends, Pauline Jolly and Kirk Thame, the first meeting convened in January of 2011 at the Smolian International House on the campus of the University of Alabama, Birmingham. A second meeting followed in April where the group was formalized. That in turn led to a “Meet and Greet” which was graciously hosted by Kirk and saw approximately 60 persons in attendance. With the help of Maureen Richards, Peggy Watson, Angela Balfour Franklin, Brian Spellen and all who shared the vision and gave of their time, talent and resources, Central Alabama Caribbean American Organization was born and there was no looking back. Michael Talbot who was then a very talented high school student in Jamaica created the CACAO logo. Michael is now an accomplished artist residing in Boston.
Central Alabama Caribbean American Organization is a social organization whose main purpose is to be a resource for students from the Caribbean who have chosen to pursue their education at one of the many universities in central Alabama. Our goal is to fulfill our mission while sharing the best of Caribbean culture with the local community.
The reactions are no longer snide nor cynical when people first hear about us, yes in fact there is a Caribbean organization in Central Alabama and not only that their list of accomplishments is quite impressive.
As Central Alabama Caribbean American Organization (CACAO) has grown, so has its reputation and the respect and enthusiasm with which it is viewed in the community.
Despite the pandemic and the fact that the organization has had to cancel all its public events, they have still managed to maintain a public image on social media and very limited public appearances. This was even more evident when CACAO awarded three scholarship to university students from the Caribbean attending school in the area. The application process is currently under way for the 2021 recipients.
Additionally, the much anticipated and celebrated Caribbean festival that was canceled in 2020 and 2021, will return to DeBardeleben Park in Bessemer on June 11, 2022. The last festival in 2019 saw an average attendance of 5,000. The organization fully expects next year’s festival to be even larger and is being promoted as a welcome Celebration of Life after Covid. The group is also seeking ways to expand their cultural offerings by doing presentations in the local schools, as well as forming a cultural dance group.
In summary, CACAO continue to grow and thrive. The organization now has two firmly established events the festival in June and the dinner dance in December, its collaboration with Birmingham Sister Cities, is poised to move forward in solidifying that relationship and with a solid board in place that is energetic, focused, and eager to continue seeking ways to take the organization to the next level we can proudly proclaim…yes indeed there is a Caribbean organization in Central Alabama so get on board or you will be left behind.
Ad Hoc Members: