History Department
History Department

Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society holds spring initiation

Tue, April 4, 2006

The highlight of the evening came next, as Dr. Frank Guridy gave a lecture in Garrison 1 entitled “Why Cuba?” that explored the linkages between American and Cuban history focusing on the relationship between African-Americans and Afro-Cubans.

Dr. Guridy's lecture answered the question of why we should study Cuba. Aside from movies such as Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights or The Buena Vista Social Club and pictures of Fidel Castro smoking a cigar (all of which appeared in the PowerPoint presentation accompanying Dr. Guridy's lecture), many in the United States know little about the island nation off the southern coast of Florida. Those who do know that our history intertwines with that of Cuba probably think of Cuba's 1959 Communist Revolution led by Fidel Castro, the Cold War, and the Cuban Missile Crisis.

But as Dr. Guridy demonstrated, our historical linkage to Cuba goes back much farther: to at least 1898 when the United States went to war with Spain, a nation from which Cuba had been struggling for independence for decades. The decisive US victory over Spain helped free Cuba from Spanish rule and began a long association between Cuba and the United States. Cuba was under US military rule until 1902 and remained a de facto protectorate into the 1930's.

During this time, the United States and Cuba were engaged in a thriving cultural exchange. Many students from Cuba studied at the Tuskegee Institute under the tutelage of Booker T. Washington. Others were educated elsewhere in the United States. On a darker and more puzzling note, a faction of the Ku Klux Klan set up shop in Cuba - where it was known as the Ku Klux Klan Kubano.

Dr. Guridy made clear in his fascinating presentation that the histories of the United States and Cuba are not only linked in geopolitical terms. The racial and cultural histories of the United States and Cuba are closely linked and are best understood by taking into account their interaction. After his lecture, Dr. Guridy took questions from the audience, composed mainly of new Phi Alpha Theta initiates.

Membership in this prestigious Honor Society is by application and requires a GPA of 3.0 and a History GPA of 3.1 with at least 12 hours of History. Interested students should talk to Faculty Advisor Dr. Susan Boettcher about applying in the fall.

Bookmark and Share