The lyrics of a song by well-known reggae singer Pluto Shervington who now spends quite a lot of time in South Florida, “I man on yah, I man born yah, I nah leave yah, fi go America… No way sah, pot a boil yah, belly full yah, Sweet Jamaica,” virtually provides support for the argument that South Florida can be claimed as part of Jamaica.
South Florida is home to one of the largest immigrant communities in the USA. In fact there are legally named communities in South Florida such as Little Haiti (majority Haitian) and Little Havana (majority Cuban). In a 2020 report by the nonprofit Migration Policy Institute they estimates there are at least 336,000 members of the Jamaican diaspora community in Florida with most of them concentrated in South Florida. The large Jamaican community living here really makes South Florida feel like an extension of Kingston. Some of us therefore are forward enough to brand South Florida as Kingston 21 because of the following 21 reasons. If you think that there are other reasons, please add them as a comment.
- Over 300,000 Jamaicans and people of Jamaican heritage call South Florida home, ranking 2nd only to New York.
- The mayors of two major South Florida cities are Jamaican or of Jamaican-descent. Mayor Wayne Messam of Miramar is of Jamaican descent and Lauderdale Lakes mayor Barrington Russell, Sr. is Jamaican born. Joining them are Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness, Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie, a number of state representatives and city commissioners.
- Jamaican food is everywhere. There are over 500 Jamaican restaurants, bakeries and shops. You are never far away from a patty or a plate of ackee ‘n’ saltfish. Every major supermarket has an aisle dedicated to Jamaican food.
- There is a steady diet of Jamaican concerts, festivals and events year round. These include the Jerk Festival, Anancy Festival, Miss Lou Festival, Olive Lewin festival, Best of the Best Concert, Miss Jamaica Florida, and Miss Jamaica Diaspora.
- Most Jamaican High schools and University alumni have a strong presence with events such as True Blue Weekend, St. Hugh’s Swansation Tea, Cast/Utech Denim & Diamonds Dance, KC Purple Dance and the Jamaica All Alumni of South Florida annual walkathon.
- Popular Jamaican fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices: mango, ackee, pear (avocado), soursop, gungo peas, thyme, scotch bonnet pepper to name a few – everything in Jamaica grows in South Florida, even yellow yam.
- Jamaicans are the largest immigrant group in Broward county. Some South Florida cities with “nuff” Jamaicans are Miami Gardens, Lauderhill, Miramar, Pembroke Pines and Plantation. Lauderhill is known as “Jamaica Hill” (even though there are no real hills in South Florida).
- Everywhere you go, you can find at least one Jamaican (by accent or “bad words”). One of the funniest things to hear is Jamaican patois with an American accent.
- Most airline flights per day between the USA and Jamaica. In fact there are more than 10 flights per day: Kingston/Montego Bay – Miami/Fort Lauderdale. The flight time (90 minutes) is usually shorter than the time spent waiting in the departure lounge.
- Barrels, barrels, and more barrels being shipped “home” from South Florida to family and friends by many companies that specialize in shipping to Jamaica.
- Money transfers from South Florida to Jamaica constitute a multi-million dollar business.
- South Florida is the 1st choice of most Jamaican foreign students – it’s much easier to get home to Jamaica for holidays, emergencies and the occasional special event.
- There are many churches with Jamaican pastors/leaders – traditional (Anglican, 7th Day Adventist) and non-traditional (Pentecostal, Church of God) options abound.
- The corporate office of the largest Jamaican charitable organization – Food for the Poor is in South Florida.
- South Florida is the most popular weekend getaway shopping trip for Jamaicans – Sawgrass Mills Mall, Dolphin Mall, Downtown Miami, Aventura Mall, Boca Raton Town Center, Dadeland Mall and others.
- Jamaican professionals are well-represented at high levels in the medical, legal, technology, education, hospitality, entertainment industries.
- Offices of large Jamaican-based corporations are present in South Florida: Grace Kennedy, Sandals, Super Clubs, Jamaica National and Victoria Mutual.
- Many Jamaican major artistes have a second home here in South Florida. This is a place for them to create music videos, record songs and also relax.
- The weather in South Florida is quite similar to the Jamaican weather throughout the year.
- South Florida is the home base of the largest website dedicated to the Jamaican diaspora www.jamaicans.com
- The Post Office system in Kingston goes from 1 – 20 (see chart below), so South Florida with so many Jamaicans and things Jamaican is a natural extension – Welcome to Kingston21!!
|Zone name||Area served|
|Kingston CSO||(Central Sorting Office) Downtown Kingston|
|Kingston 1||Port Royal|
|Kingston 2||Windward Road|
|Kingston 3||Vineyard Town|
|Kingston 4||Allman Town|
|Kingston 5||Cross Roads|
|Kingston 8||Constant Spring|
|Kingston 9||Stony Hill|
|Kingston 11||Hagley Park|
|Kingston 12||Jones Town|
|Kingston 13||Whitfield Town|
|Kingston 14||Denham Town|
|Kingston 16||Franklyn Town|
|Kingston 17||Harbour View|
|Kingston 20||Western District|
Kingston 21 South Florida ******
Justin Peart – Business/Entrepreneurship Professor at St. Thomas University in Miami. He is also a Small Business Marketing Consultant. His latest project is the South Florida Caribbean Business Magazine dedicated to highlighting Caribbean businesses in South Florida.