Cuban Revolution in America: Havana and the Making of a United States Left, 1968-1992

Cuban Revolution in America: Havana and the Making of a United States Left, 1968-1992

Cuban Revolution in America: Havana and the Making of a United States Left, 1968-1992

Cuban Revolution in America: Havana and the Making of a United States Left, 1968-1992


Cuba's grassroots revolution prevailed on America's doorstep in 1959, fueling intense interest within the multiracial American Left even as it provoked a backlash from the U.S. political establishment. In this groundbreaking book, historian Teishan A. Latner contends that in the era of decolonization, the Vietnam War, and Black Power, socialist Cuba claimed center stage for a generation of Americans who looked to the insurgent Third World for inspiration and political theory. As Americans studied the island's achievements in education, health care, and economic redistribution, Cubans in turn looked to U.S. leftists as collaborators in the global battle against inequality and allies in the nation's Cold War struggle with Washington. By forging ties with organizations such as the Venceremos Brigade, the Black Panther Party, and the Cuban American students of the Antonio Maceo Brigade, and by providing political asylum to activists such as Assata Shakur, Cuba became a durable global influence on the U.S. Left.

Drawing from extensive archival and oral history research and declassified FBI and CIA documents, this is the first multidecade examination of the encounter between the Cuban Revolution and the U.S. Left after 1959. By analyzing Cuba's multifaceted impact on American radicalism, Latner contributes to a growing body of scholarship that has globalized the study of U.S. social justice movements.


In August 1967, Stokely Carmichael stood before a crowd of 1,500 Cubans and foreign delegates during the summit of the Organization of Latin American Solidarity (OLAS) in Havana. Convened at the peak of Cuba’s efforts to foment left-wing revolution in Latin America and drawing representatives from twenty-seven countries in the hemisphere, the conference aimed to codify a broad position of support for revolution in the Americas. Although focused on Latin America, the conference drew delegates from across the insurgent Third World, as well as a number of leftist dissidents from the United States and Europe.

Linking the fate of African Americans confronting the vestiges of Jim Crow to that of Latin Americans struggling against the legacy of foreign domination, Carmichael, a veteran organizer with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), offered a message of solidarity to the assembled delegates. “We look upon Cuba as a shining example of hope in our hemisphere. We do not view our struggle as being contained within the boundaries of the United States as they are defined by present day maps. Instead, we look to the day when a true United States of America will extend from Tierra del Fuego to Alaska, when those formerly oppressed will stand together, a liberated people.”

Positioning the U.S. black freedom movement within larger hemispheric forces in opposition to U.S. influence in the Americas and articulating an internationalist vision of Black Power — the phrase that he had popularized in Mississippi — Carmichael’s speech evinced the global gaze of a growing number of black radical activists during the late 1960s, a gaze that had followed the arc of Cuba’s evolving revolution with pointed interest. Dismantling formal segregation on the island shortly after its triumph in 1959, when desegregation was still several years away in the American South, and initiating nationwide . . .

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