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Contacting Marti-Maceo, Tampa

Sociedad La Union Martí-Maceo
Tampa Florida

This is a press release about the Sociedad's centennial celebration. For more details on the Sociedad, see Union Marti-Maceo

Sociedad La Union Martí-Maceo celebrates centennial

Cuban Clubs Celebrate Centennial

El Circulo Cubano and Sociedad La Union Marti-Maceo are planning a year long celebration of the centennial of their joint founding by Cuban Independence veterans in 1899. These two organizations, which are still in existence, are both located within the historic district of Ybor City. Members of both clubs include descendants of Cuban cigar workers involved in the Cuban independence movement of the 1890s (which ended with the Spanish American War in 1898). Cubans who remained in Tampa formed a mutual aid society in 1899, initially called the Club Nacional Cubano, Octubre 10. (October 10, or Grito de Yara, is an important Cuban national holiday commemorating the 1868 uprising against Spain.) This was a racially integrated organization that reflected the solidarity that existed between black and white Cubans, who had fought together in the war. Black and white Cubans remained together in the same club until October 26, 1900, when they split along racial lines. Since then, there have been two separate organizations. The white Cuban club was later named El Circulo Cubano, and the black Cuban club was named La Union Marti-Maceo (after Jose Marti and Antonio Maceo, the most revered heroes of Cuban independence). Both organizations erected social halls in Ybor City, where cigar workers and their families had access to comprehensive medical care and social and cultural activities for all age groups.

In the century since the founding of the two organizations, the medical benefits have been eliminated almost completely, although both have continued to function as social clubs. Dances, parties, and other activities still occur on a regular basis. Membership has declined greatly, and both of these organizations have launched efforts to recruit new members among Tampa’s Cuban descendants and others interested in the history and culture of Ybor City.

In sponsoring the events and exhibits planned for the coming year, Circulo Cubano and Marti-Maceo are joined in a common effort to preserve the heritage that both clubs represent. The centennial offers a critical opportunity to examine and better understand the divisions that have existed between black and white Cubans, as well as to celebrate their common origins in the early Cuban community of Tampa. The Florida Humanities Council provided a grant in the amount of $23,990. The Ybor City Museum Society is the principal sponsor. Other sponsors of this project include the USF Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, the USF Center for Florida History and Politics, and the Heritage Structures Consortium of Ybor City. Paul Dosal, USF Dept. of History (and President of El Circulo Cubano), and Susan Greenbaum, USF Dept. of Anthropology, will serve as project directors.

The first event will occur on Sunday, October 17, 1999, at the Circulo Cubano hall at 2010 N. Republica de Cuba Avenue (12th Street and Palm Avenue in Ybor City). It will begin at 2 PM and should conclude by 4:00. Paul Dosal, president of Circulo Cubano, and Michael Torres, president of Marti-Maceo, will offer welcoming remarks. Susan Greenbaum, an Anthropology professor at USF, will provide a brief discussion of Cuban involvement in the war for Cuban independence and the founding of the original club. The remaining program will be a birthday party for Circulo Cubano, focusing on the contributions of its members to the Ybor City community and the larger society. An exhibit of photographs chronicling one hundred years of Circulo Cubano’s existence will be displayed in the lobby and theater of the social hall. The exhibit was developed by Alejandro de Quesada, director of Circulo Cubano’s planned museum, and Paul Dosal, historian and president of Circulo Cubano. There will be live music. This, and all future events in the series will be free and open to public. Refreshments will be provided.

There will be four additional programs in the series. On December 5, 1999, a dramatic living history program, entitled "Cuba Libre: Tampa and the Struggle for Cuban Independence," will be presented at the theater in Circulo Cubano. The next event is scheduled for March 12, 2000. Entitled "The Social Vision of Jose Marti and Antonio Maceo," it will be held at the Jose Marti Park (at 13th and 8th Avenue) and in the Marti-Maceo social hall (1226 E. 7th Avenue). On April 30, 2000, a panel discussion and community forum will address the question of "Racial Reconciliation within the Cuban Community and Beyond." This event will be held at the Ybor City Museum (9th Avenue and 18th Street). The final event of the series will take place on October 22, 2000. This event commemorates the split between the two clubs, in October 1900, and will serve as a birthday celebration of the Sociedad La Union Marti-Maceo. It will take place at the Marti-Maceo social hall (1226 E. 7th Avenue). All events will be held on Sunday afternoons, beginning at 2 PM. All are free to the public.

Information about the upcoming program on October 17, or subsequent events in the series, may be obtained by telephoning Paul Dosal, project director, 974-6177, or by e-mail,

Contacting Marti Maceo, Tampa

Michael Torres, president

Sociedad La Union Marti-Maceo
P.O. Box 76144
Tampa, FL 33675-6144.

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