The Harvard Cubans: Film Screening and Q&A with Director

Our friends at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies invite Harvard undergraduates and friends of the FDR Foundation to  Monday’s screening of the documentary film The Harvard Cubans (Los cubanos de Harvard), produced by the Cuba Studies Program at DRCLAS/Harvard. The film covers the Cuban Teachers’ Expedition in 1900, when 1,273 Cuban schoolteachers attended Harvard Summer School in the largest people-to-people exchange between the two countries, at the time or since.
As background, here is an interesting article from the magazine OnCuba about the Expedition and the documentary (also available in Spanish). FDR arrived at Harvard around the same time as the Cuban teachers, while cousin Teddy and other Harvardians played key roles (both pro and con) in the Spanish-American War which led to the Expedition.
David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies
October 23, 2017 | 6:00pm | CGIS S-010*

In the year 1900, more than half of all Cuban public school teachers from across the island boarded five American military ships to travel to Cambridge to participate in a Summer School organized by Harvard, the largest such endeavor ever undertaken by the University. The Cuba Studies Program sponsored the making of a documentary film about the expedition. Visit our website for the full synopsis.

Following the premiere screening of the film, a question-and-answer session will be held with director Danny González Lucena and historian Dr. Marial Iglesias Utset, Visiting Research Scholar at the Afro-Latin American Research Institute at Harvard. Please note the 72-minute film is in Spanish with English subtitles. Reception to follow.

About the director: Danny González Lucena is a journalism graduate of the University of Havana. He currently works as a cultural journalist on Cuban television, where he specializes in music. He has also been involved in issues related to heritage conservation and folk traditions, with several international special reports. His work as a filmmaker includes the titles: Por qué luchamos (2011), dedicated to the life and work of the Saíz brothers; La Perla de Oriente (2016), which investigates little-known aspects of Guantanamo musician Lilí Martínez; and Los cubanos de Harvard (The Harvard Cubans) (2017).

“The End of a Dream”: Harvard, Imperialism, and the Spanish American War (Fall 2018)

“We are now engaged in cursing out the sacredest  thing in this great human world — the attempt of a people long enslaved to attain freedom and work out its own destiny.”  William James

“America has lost her unique position as a leader in the progress of civilization, and has taken up her place simply as one of the grasping and selfish nations of the present day.”  Charles Eliot Norton

We are false to all we have believed in. This great free land which for more than a century has offered a refuge to the oppressed of every land, has now turned to oppression.” Moorfield Storey

It has been a splendid little war, begun with the highest motives, carried on with magnificent intelligence and spirit, favored by that Fortune which loves the brave.”  Secretary of State John Hay to Theodore Roosevelt

The Spanish American War, Harvard, & the Rise of American Empire

The Spanish American War of 1898 lasted barely ten weeks and is largely forgotten today, but the conflict was one of those rare nexus points in history that shaped the destiny of four continents. In Spain, the sudden loss of almost all colonial territories generated a national crisis of confidence that set the stage for the Spanish Civil War. In the Caribbean, Cuba began the long journey to Castro and beyond. Puerto Rico half-lurched into the American confederacy — its future still not resolved today. In the Pacific, the US became an uncomfortable colonial power in the Philippines, ostensibly under the banner of high altruism, but in reality motivated by poorly disguised commercial and strategic interests — a fact not lost on Harvard academics like Charles Eliot Norton and William James, who mourned the war as the end of the American dream. TR and his Great White Fleet, the naval race between Great Britain and Germany, the Panama Canal, FDR’s views on naval power and US involvement in WWI and WII, the rise of modern journalism, even the role of Harvard as a center of global policy — all these and many other seemingly unrelated events can trace their origins directly back to a fateful day in April of 1898.

Join us in 2018 on the 120th anniversary of the Spanish American War as the Foundation takes a multi-disciplinary look back at ten weeks that forever changed the modern world.