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In the din of the city, who pauses before a statue? Who bothers to read what is carved in stone? In New York City, no one says “the Avenue of the Americas” to refer to what has always been Sixth Avenue. Walking uptown on this avenue, the urban stroller comes to one of the grand entrances at the southern boundary of Central Park. The entrance is guarded by the equestrian statues of three great Latin American heroes: Simón Bolívar, José de San Martin and José Martí. I went there on a frigid afternoon in late January to see if someone had placed flowers to honor the day of Martí’s birthday, the 28th. It turns out there were two funeral wreaths, one of them with dozens of white rosebuds, placed there by the Cuban Cultural Center of New York. This book, a reading of Martí, an introduction to “the man and his works,” begins at this spot. For me it has always been a place that is both familiar and alienating. It is familiar because the image of Martí brings back memories of my Cuban childhood. It is alienating because there is something anachronistic and unsettling about a granite monolith topped by a rearing horse and its heroic rider in the heart of Manhattan, the place where I live.
KeywordsYork City Race Prejudice Democratic Ideal Contemporary Critic Latin American Nation
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