When we think about the origins of Latina/o Florida, we often imagine Cuban immigrants who fled the regime of Fidel Castro. But decades before Miami became Havana USA, a wave of leftist, radical, working-class women and men from prerevolutionary Cuba crossed the Florida Straits, made Ybor City the global capital of the Cuban cigar industry, and established the foundation of latinidad in the sunshine state. Located on the eastern edge of the Gulf Coast port city of Tampa, Ybor City was a neighborhood of cigar workers and Caribbean revolutionaries who sought refuge against the shifting tides of international political turmoil during the early half of the twentieth century.
Here historian Sarah McNamara tells the story of immigrant and U.S.-born Latinas/os who fought for survival across generations and against the backdrop of a reconstructed southern order. McNamara follows Latinas who organized strikes, marched against fascism, and criticized U.S. foreign policy. While many members of the immigrant generation maintained their dedication to progressive ideals for years to come, those who came of age in the wake of World War II distanced themselves from leftist politics amidst the Red Scare and the wrecking ball of urban renewal. This portrait of the political shifts that defined Ybor City highlights the underexplored role of women's leadership within movements for social and economic justice as it illustrates how people, places, and politics become who and what they are.