The journey of Afro-Caribbean peoples to the United States started long ago, when enslaved Barbadians were taken by their British owners to South Carolina during the seventeenth century. Indeed, most of the earliest Africans to arrive in what would become the United States were seasoned men, women, and children from the Caribbean.
This first involuntary migration was followed by a large influx of people from the British West Indies at the turn of the twentieth century. A third wave of immigrants arrived between 1930 and 1965, and a fourth movement is still going on today. The impact of these migrations upon American society, and especially upon African America, has been profound.
Immigration from the Spanish-speaking Caribbean started later, but grew fast. In the year 2000, more than 5.4 million U.S. residents traced their national origins to Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic. This figure represents more than one-fifth of the islands' populations. Large-scale population displacements have transformed daily life in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean - from family structure and religious practices to business enterprises and political ideology. They have also reshaped the physical and cultural landscape of several U.S. neighborhoods, cities, and states. In particular, Hispanic Caribbean migration has contributed to eroding the traditional dichotomy between black and white people that has been prevalent in U.S. history and continues to be important today.