The Caribbean American Political Action Committee (C-PAC) was founded in November 2005 to advance the political agenda of Caribbean-Americans currently residing in the Washington DC Metropolitan Area (Washington DC, Maryland and Northern Virginia). C-PAC’s overarching mission is to be the political voice of the Metropolitan area’s vibrant and growing Caribbean-American community.
To that end, C-PAC will endorse and support candidates for public office in the Metropolitan area who articulate policy positions that will strengthen the economic, educational, social, and cultural conditions of individuals of Caribbean heritage residing in the Washington DC metropolitan area. C-PAC will also seek to foster greater relationships between the U.S. Federal, State and Local governments and the nations of the Caribbean.
THE FOUNDING OF C-PAC
In 2005, while serving as Chair of the Mayor’s Advisory Commission on Caribbean Community Affairs (the Commission), Chris Gardiner concluded that it was necessary for the Caribbean Community to have a political organization, which it controlled, to advance its political agenda in the Washington Metropolitan Area (the DMV). In June 2005, Denys Vaughn Cooke and Elizabeth Stanley, two other members of the Commission, joined him to organize and found the Caribbean American Political Action Committee (C-PAC).
In order to get C-PAC “off the ground,” the organizers decided to seek out ninety-seven other individuals to become initial members of the organization. These individual, along with the three founders, would forever be known as the “Founding Patrons.” The task of identifying and convincing the ninety-seven Patrons fell primarily to our current chair, Goulda Downer. She was responsible for “convincing” over sixty of her colleagues and friends to join us. The Founding Patrons hail from almost every country in the Caribbean, to include the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Their initial contributions ranged from $25 to $5,000. Without them, C-PAC - a truly Pan-Caribbean organization - would not exist.
- In 2007, C-PAC participated in the Mayor’s march on Capitol Hill in support of DC Voting Rights. Members wore T-shirts and carried a banner that read: Caribbean-American PAC Supports DC Voting Rights;
- C-PAC wrote to the Caribbean Common Market (CARICOM), proposing a working relationship between C-PAC and its member Countries;
- At the Caribbean Conference of Prime Ministers in June, 2007, C-PAC Chair, Chris Gardiner spoke about the regional importance of C-PAC and the significant role C-PAC plays in the political process in the DMV;
- During this period C-PAC twice wrote to Mayor Fenty requesting the creation of an Office of Caribbean Affairs. There was no response from the Mayor.
- In 2010 C-PAC held various Community Forums in the District of Columbia, Prince George’s County and Montgomery County leading up to that year’s elections. Except for Mayor Fenty, all of the major candidates for political office in each of the jurisdictions participated in the Forums;
- C-PAC participated with various organizations in a headline-making press conference announcing its endorsement of Vincent Gray for Mayor of the District of Columbia.
- In the run-up to the 2010 elections, candidate Vincent Gray committed to C-PAC that, if elected Mayor, he would (a) re-activate the Mayor’s Advisory Commission on Caribbean Community Affairs which had been allowed to “sunset” under the previous Mayor, and (b)
- allow the Caribbean Carnival to be held in 2011 so that a study of its economic impact on DC could be conducted. In 2011, C-PAC, together with the DC Carnival Committee, participated in five (5) high-level meetings with officials of the Gray administration to ensure that Carnival took place in 2011. Council Member Muriel Bowser, or a representative of her office, was present at most of the meetings in support of Carnival.
- Mayor Gray kept his promise to C-PAC and Carnival was held in 2011. C-PAC arranged for Howard University to conduct a study of the impact of Carnival on the economy of the District of Columbia. The results of the study were very positive. In spite of this however, the Mayor chose not to continue support of the DC Carnival beyond 2011;
- In June 2012, Maryland Governor O’Malley established the Governor’s Commission on Caribbean Community Affairs. The Governor’s Office contacted C-PAC directly and seeking recommendations for appointments to the Commission. A number of C-PAC’s recommendations were accepted.
- In August 2012, Washington, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, in accordance with his promise during the C-PAC candidate forum, re-established the Mayor’s Advisory Commission on Caribbean Community Affairs. Most of the members were recommended by C-PAC and were either active or inactive members of the organization.
- In 2013 C-PAC Co-Founder and Chair, Chris Gardiner, resigned after 8 years at the helm to encourage new leadership and growth of C-PAC;
- In May, Founding Patron Dr. Ivan Walks, is announced as C-PAC Chair. However, Dr. Walks resigns soon thereafter without taking up office due to increased professional workload;
- In November, Founding Patron Curtis A. Ward, Former Jamaican Ambassador to the UN, accepts position as Chair of C-PAC for a one (1) year term.
- In 2014 (March) the inaugural CPAC Informer newsletter is published and circulated to members;
- Following the Annual General Meeting, C-PAC elects a new Chair, Founding Patron Goulda Downer, Ph.D., to lead the Executive Board.
- In 2015 Co-Founder, and Former Chair, Chris Gardiner is an honoree in the inaugural Washington, DC Mayor’s Caribbean Community Recognition Awards;
- C-PAC’s Chair, Dr. Goulda Downer, former Chair Chris Gardiner and Honorary Life Member, and Caribbean American icon, Mr. Leo Edwards met with the CARICOM Caucus of Ambassadors to brief them on C-PAC’s activities.
C-PAC is a membership driven organization. Membership is open to all citizens of the US, but the board may refuse an application for membership. Members vote to elect the Board of Directors and to determine which candidates for political office the organization will endorse and financially support.
Please go to our Get Involved page to fill out the membership form.