Why Don't We Know This Afro-Cuban Man's Name?

Men playing wooden instruments in Havana, Cuba
Shonda Buchanan
September 3, 2020

He waved at the cheering crowd as they tossed roses and colorful elekes beads at his feet. “The Bronze Titan,” they chanted, “our savior.” Why did the people love him – but the generals never promote him?

He’d fought in over 500 battles during the Ten Years War for Cuban independence from colonial Spain, but his superiors always overlooked him. Why? Jealousy wasn’t the issue – their arrogance was much more sinister.

He had his mother’s Afro-Cuban blood - she was the grandchild of slaves. Lighter-skinned wealthy Cubans upheld the divisive caste system inherited from Spain. 

Antonio Maceo finally rose to second-in-command, but at the end of the war the other generals’ surrender kept one unforgivable clause – Maceo was stunned.

They wanted to keep slavery! Over half of Maceo’s soldiers were Afro-Cubans, former slaves who’d joined the fight for their own and their families’ freedom. Why would Maceo agree to surrender if it didn’t end slavery? The generals pressured Maceo to sign the treaty, but he left the country in protest.

That wasn’t the end of it.

Upon his return to fight in the next war, he was betrayed and murdered in an ambush! His final victory, his honor, were snatched away. 

Still, Antonio Maceo’s sacrifice and determination to end slavery lives on and should not be forgotten! The struggle to end white oppression continues.

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