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Cuba’s President Visits Harlem, Pays Tribute to Malcolm X

The president of Cuba made a special appearance in Harlem to pay homage to Malcolm X and show solidarity with the African diaspora.

On Monday (September 18), Cuban President Miguel Diáz-Canel visited the Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Center in Manhattan. He is currently in town for the United Nations General Assembly, which began this week in New York City. The visit was an affirmation of the ties that Cuba has had with the people of Harlem since the late Fidel Castro first visited in September 1960. Castro, not wishing to follow the lead of other world leaders attending the General Assembly, opted to stay at the legendary Hotel Teresa on 125th Street which led him to meeting Malcolm X in person.

In his speech, President Diáz-Canel highlighted how the civil rights icon referenced the Cuban Revolution in several of his speeches. He also spoke glowingly of Malcolm X’s constant activity as a fighter for social justice for Black people in the United States, as well as his connection and involvement with the liberation movements on the African continent. Dr. Ilyasah Shabazz was in attendance, along with former New York City Councilman Charles Barron and other dignitaries.

To further mark the occasion, President Diáz-Canel also presented a commemorative bronze plaque featuring the faces of Fidel Castro and Malcolm X, which will be placed in the Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center. The building was formerly the site of the Audubon Ballroom, where Malcolm X was assassinated on February 21, 1965. The building was acquired by Columbia University which developed the center as part of a medical complex.

The Cuban President’s visit begins a busy week, as he is slated to speak before the General Assembly on its opening day Tuesday (September 19th) in addition to being the prime representative of the Group of 77. The G-77 is a coalition of 135 developing nations predominately representing the Global South who’ve joined together to enhance their negotiating capacity within the United Nations. As chair of the G-77, Diáz-Canel is expected to address the General Assembly on its lack of action concerning the climate crisis.

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