You might not know it from watching the evening news, but immigration isn’t solely a Latino issue. In fact, there are more than 60 million first- and second-generation black Americans with immigrant backgrounds in the U.S. — each with a unique voice that yearns to be heard. Enter The Generation Project (otherwise known as The G Project), an innovative awareness campaign launched earlier this month by The Black Institute, which focuses on the successes and achievements that black immigrants and their descendants have contributed to the country. These so-called “Gs” emigrated from Africa, Europe, the Caribbean or South America. They all have distinct stories and backgrounds, and many of them have a vested interest in the ongoing fight for comprehensive immigration reform.
MORE: A New Weapon in the Immigration Wars: Hospitality
The G Project officially celebrated its launch last week at a high-profile panel headed by New York City’s First Lady Chirlane McCray. McCray, wife of newly seated mayor Bill de Blasio, is a second-generation immigrant, whose grandmother and grandfather emigrated from Barbados. “Now, I am a G-two, a second generation immigrant,” McCray said during the panel. “But when people look at me, and hear me, they see that I don’t speak with an accent. They see me as African-American, but they don’t think about where my people came from. And I am not unique. When it comes to immigration, there are 60 million people like you and me, and our voices are too important. The stakes are too high for us to not be heard.”
MORE: This Is What the Path to Citizenship Really Looks Like
As the fight over immigration reform continues, The G Project hopes to encourage black immigrants and their descendants to become part of the conversation, developing a unified message that speaks to their experiences. As McCray noted at the panel, these immigrants and their families depend on it. “Whether we consider ourselves African, Caribbean, or African-American, everyone needs to know their heritage. Everyone needs to know their roots,” she said. “After all, you cannot fulfill your future, unless you honor your past.”