The essays in this volume were originally presented in Tampa in October 1992, at a conference to explore how José Martí and the Cuban emigré communities in Florida worked together in the early 1890s to promote Cuban independence from Spain. After 1892, Ybor City, West Tampa, Key West, and Martí City (Ocala) emerged as centers of that effort. Martí’s writings, speeches, and visits to these Cuban groups greatly influenced them in their pursuit of Cuba libre.
The contributors to this book represent several disciplines in their approach to the topic. Among the historians, Enrique Collazo Pérez (Instituto de Historia, Havana) writes of the Liga Patriótica Cubana, a working-class club of emigré separatists founded in Tampa, and of Martí's efforts to persuade them to join the Cuban Revolutionary Party in 1892. Nancy A. Hewitt (Duke University) reveals the role of women, especially in Tampa, in the Cuban independence movement, female oratory, club activities, and fundraising. L. Glenn Westfall (Hillsborough Community College, Tampa) describes the founding of Marti City in the late 1880s by Ocala developers and Cuban cigar manufacturers.
Nancy R. Mirabal (University of Michigan) examines Martí's writings and speeches on the subject of racism and his mostly unsuccessful efforts to eliminate prejudice among the Cuban emigrés, not only against Afro-Cubans but also against Afro-Americans. Adalberto A. Ronda Varona (Centro de Estudios Martianos, Havana) seeks to apply the writings of the French Hispanist Noel Salomon and the Cuban author Rafael Cepeda to Martí’s famous speech, “With All and For the Good of All,” given at the Liceo Cubano in Tampa on November 26, 1891. C. Neale Ronning (New School for Social Research), a political scientist, reviews Martí's works on Cuban civic virtues and the contrasting lack of ethics among North American policymakers who had designs on an independent Cuba.
Three of the contributors are specialists in language and literature. Agnes I. Lugo-Ortiz (Dartmouth) concentrates on Martí's biographical sketches in Patria, intended for the Cuban emigrés. He provided examples of the moral virtues of earlier Cuban patriots as a means of gaining emigré support for the independence movement. Ivan A. Schulman (University of Illinois, Urbana) examines the 117 entries by cigar workers in the Album presented to Martí in Key West in 1891 as early and unofficial manifestations of his apotheosis. The novelist José Yglesias contributes a personal memoir of growing up in Tampa in the 1920s, with Martí as an admired and living presence in recollections by family members, and his own study of Martí's life and writings.
These essays are informative, well researched, and interesting, not only for Martí scholars but also for the general reader.