Meeting José Martí

I spent my day today in New York City as a chaperone for my daughter’s school trip to see “The Little Mermaid” on Broadway. I was a little bummed that as of last night I had not had a chance to prepare anything for my blog about Cuban Solidarity Day events. I was only barely able to keep abreast of what was going on at the White House via a sporadic internet connection on my pda.
So, with a few hours to kill after arriving in New York, the kids asked to go to Central Park. I had not been to Cental Park since I was a teenager, as my trips to New York don’t usually include a jaunt there, so I was game. On our way there I spied a Cuban flag made out of, I thought, flowers. My first thought was “Oh no, a Cuban died in Central Park,” and the flag was there to mark the death. As we got closer, I saw that the flag was flanked by flowers and it was the base of a statue- of Jose Martí on a horse. My daughter said “Mom! That’s the guy you painted on your classroom wall!” I said “It IS!” Let’s go look!’ and I pulled her hand, which was holding another teen’s hand, which was holding another teen’s hand, and the four of us went running towards the statue, two of us not knowing why and the other one just doing what her mother said to do. I don’t know why we were running- the statue wasn’t going anywhere and we looked pretty silly.
Wow. That statue is enormous. But the legacy of the man it is there to commemorate is larger than the statue. What he means to Cubans, Cubans whose ancestors were freed from Spanish rule but now live under a tyrant’s thumb, was not lost on me today. It sent a bunch of Martí-related thoughts through my mind- from the first time I taught about that very statue mentioned in a Spanish textbook, to teaching my students “Versos Sencillos” this winter. The fact that I just happened to be in New York today, with Cuba on my mind, and accidentally came across the statue which, if I had seen some twenty (ahem!) years ago, I made no notice of, and there it was, right in front of me, gave me a little bit of goosebumps.
I’m sure any Cuban who has been to New York City has seen this beautiful tribute to Martí. But for me, a girl from Philly who has only paid homage to the Rocky statue, it was very meaningful, especially given the past year and a half of my blogging and writing about Cuba. My daughter and her friends got a mini-lesson on Cuban history after I dragged them across the street, and I’m such a nerdy teacher that I am already excited about showing my students this picture tomorrow.
So, to those of you who have never seen it, and for those of you who have, here is what I saw today.

2 thoughts on “Meeting José Martí”

  1. The statue to Jose Marti in New Yorks Central Park. Always, always a stir in my heart when I visit it. No visit to New York is complete with out a stroll to that spot.
    Henry Agueros.

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