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menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

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Puerto Rican poet and journalist Lola Rodríguez de Tió was one of the most prominent early advocates for Puerto Rican independence. Among her most popular works was "A Cuba," from which the excerpt below is taken. Rodríguez lived her final years…

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The similarities between the Cuban (top) and Puerto Rican (bottom) flags are not accidental. The Cuban flag was designed in 1849 by Narciso López, a pro-independence exile living in New York City. The design for the Puerto Rican flag was adopted by…

The family of Cesar Marcos Medina moved from Cuba to Ybor City in Tampa, Florida in 1903. In this interview, Medina details the experiences of his father, who worked as a lector (reader) in the city's cigar factories. Medina also describes the…

In his memoirs, the Puerto Rican-born cigar maker Bernardo Vega included this interview he conducted with a fellow immigrant about Puerto Rican life in New York during the early part of the twentieth century. In response to Vega's questions, the…

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U.S. intervention in Puerto Rico and Cuba during the Spanish-American War established the U.S. as the dominant power in those countries, altering the paths of their respective independence movements. Critics accused the U.S. of acting in its own…

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The lector, or reader, was an institution in Tampa cigar factories. Elected and paid by the workers, the lector read material of their choosing aloud as the workers assembled cigars. Lectores read newspapers, current affairs publications, and even…

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Cubans living in Tampa during the early part of the twentieth century published their own newspapers in Spanish. In addition to local news, the papers carried dispatches from Cuba and Spain. These papers were frequently read aloud in the city's cigar…

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The Fifteenth Infantry Regiment (Colored) of the New York National Guard—popularly known as the "Harlem Hellfighters"—was formed in Harlem in 1916 to help the U.S. war effort during World War I. One of its members, James Reese Europe, was charged…

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While agitation for Cuban independence had brought black and white Cubans together, during the post-independence period exile communities in Florida split under the influence of the region's Jim Crow mores. The Marti-Maceo Society (Sociedad La Union…

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The San Carlos Institute in Key West, Florida was established in 1871 by Cuban exiles who sought their country's independence from Spain. The Institute, which provided bilingual education and promoted Cuban independence, was largely supported and…
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