The All-American Cuban Comet

As a Cuban immigrant, 10-year-old Carlos Alvarez felt the sting of discrimination, but soon found a way to combat it: football. Excelling at a sport few Latinos played, “the Cuban Comet” became a record-smashing receiver at the University of Florida and an inspiration to others struggling to adapt to life in a new country, all [...]

Errol Flynn’s Ghost: Hollywood in Havana

In late 1958, Hollywood swashbuckler Errol Flynn found himself in the middle of a real-life adventure more improbable than the plot of any film he ever made: the Cuban revolution. The episode was a fitting climax to mid-20th century Cuba’s obsession with American movies — a fixation that led Havana to boast of more movie [...]

A Long Way from Home

Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color line in 1947, but it took another generation of Black and Latino players to make the sport truly open to all. Playing in remote minor-league towns where racial segregation remained a fact of life well into the 1960s, these were the men who, before they could live their big-league dreams, [...]

Plastic Paradise

The return of American GIs from the Pacific theatre after World War II helped launch a Polynesian craze. Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon-Tiki expedition, James Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific, and Hawaiian statehood all fueled the phenomenon. This “tiki” culture — so named after the large, wooden sculptures found throughout Polynesia — included candy-colored rum cocktails, [...]

Nixon’s the One: The ’68 Election

In 1962, Richard Nixon's once meteoric political career lay in ruins. The former vice-president had suffered two bitter losses; one in the 1960 presidential race against John F. Kennedy, the other in a bid for the governorship of California. Yet, only six years later, Nixon would be elected President of the United States. How did [...]

Muhammad Ali: Made in Miami

In 1960, an 18-year-old boxer named Cassius Clay arrived in Miami, determined to become heavyweight champion of the world. Over the next few years, coinciding with the height of the national civil rights movement, he piled up victories in the ring, cultivated an outrageous style outside of it, and adopted the Black separatist teachings of [...]