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A Visit to Cuba

I made my second trip to Cuba this February, as part of a delegation of Black publishers & writers. The purpose of our visit was to participate in the Havana International Bookfair. But given what’s important to us, Cuba’s history & the deep roots we share - the trip was even bigger than books.

Our delegation was 23 strong - Black publishers, writers, academics, and book lovers, and our visit included support of other Cuban literary, cultural, and community institutions.

We visited Casa de las Americas, a cultural institution founded in 1959 that promotes and supports Latin American and Caribbean arts and culture. There we spent time with Zuleica Romay Guerra, its program director, who talked about their work and Cuba's need for books that reflect Black people. Our group donated lots of our books to the organization. In the third photo below, we're surrounding Zuleica in a circle of love and support.

We also went to Edicione Vigia in Matanzas, where they hand make books like the beautiful one on Nina Simone below. (My mom and I are time sharing it.)

Of course we had to make a trip to the library, Biblioteca Nacional de Cuba/Jose Marti National Library. My brother Stephan and I presented a selection of children's and YA books published by Just Us Books to the library's director. It took a while but I finally found the Langston Hughes section in the card catalog.

Our People to People visit to Cuba was organized by Diaspora Explorations Inc., coordinated by Rosemari Mealy. The Black Publishers Delegation was led by Paul Coates of Black Classic Press.

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