Afro Little Havana: Commemorating the Black History of the "Latino Ellis Island"

Afro Little Havana

Heritage celebrations that take place during Hispanic Heritage and Black History months often under-represent or fail to include Latinos of African descent.

Explore AfroLittleHavana to learn more about the diversity of the African Diaspora in the iconic Latinx neighborhood of Little Havana.

This site honors the historic and contemporary presence and contributions of people of African descent in Latin America and Little Havana: a neighborhood in Miami, Florida described by Miami historian Paul S. George as the "Latino Ellis Island." AfroLittleHavana also complicates dominant narratives about this iconic neighborhood, which is one of Miami's most popular tourism destinations.

In 2017, the National Trust for Historic Preservation designated Little Havana a "National Treasure." Famous for its role in the lives of Cubans who fled here after 1959, the neighborhood is now far more diverse, with about nearly half of its residents hailing from Central and South America and non-Latinos (including African Americans) also living in the neighborhood.

Little Havana is often portrayed as a space of “white Cubanidad” (Cubanness), with only a handful of Cubans of African descent represented in its murals and monuments (e.g., Celia Cruz, Beny More, Antonio Maceo). Too few people know the full legacies and impact of these commemorated individuals. AfroLittleHavana will help you learn more.

Indeed, the presence and contributions of Afro-Latinos and others of African descent in Little Havana (and other parts of South Florida beyond famous black neighborhoods) receive little attention in the narratives of Miami's tour guides, articles and guides. In part this is due to legacies of formal and informal racial segregation that limited the presence of Blacks in Little Havana. Nonetheless, it is also due in part to a dominant “single story” of Little Havana that silences, marginalizes or distorts the histories of people of African descent who were and are connected to the neighborhood, Miami, and beyond.

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