Our Rightful Share

The Afro-Cuban Struggle for Equality, 1886-1912

By Aline Helg

375 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 17 illus., 1 map

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-4494-6
    Published: February 1995

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Awards & distinctions

1998 Gordon K. Lewis Memorial Award for Caribbean Scholarship, Caribbean Studies Association

1995 Wesley-Logan Prize in African Diaspora History, American Historical Association

1997 Elsa Goveia Prize, Association of Caribbean Historians

In Our Rightful Share, Aline Helg examines the issue of race in Cuban society, politics, and ideology during the island's transition from a Spanish colony to an independent state. She challenges Cuba's well-established myth of racial equality and shows that racism is deeply rooted in Cuban creole society. Helg argues that despite Cuba's abolition of slavery in 1886 and its winning of independence in 1902, Afro-Cubans remained marginalized in all aspects of society. After the wars for independence, in which they fought en masse, Afro-Cubans demanded change politically by forming the first national black party in the Western Hemisphere. This challenge met with strong opposition from the white Cuban elite, culminating in the massacre of thousands of Afro-Cubans in 1912. The event effectively ended Afro-Cubans' political organization along racial lines, and Helg stresses that although some cultural elements of African origin were integrated into official Cuban culture, true racial equality has remained elusive.

About the Author

Aline Helg, professor of history at the University of Geneva, is author of Civiliser le peuple et former les élites: L'éducation en Colombie, 1918-1957.
For more information about Aline Helg, visit the Author Page.


"Aline Helg's assiduously researched study based on archives in Cuba, Spain, and France is one of the first substantive works in English on this topic."--The Historian

"An extremely important book. It is an impressively researched, well-thought out, and well-written study."--American Historical Review

"An important contribution to the body of historiography on race relations and politics in Cuba. It is a thoroughly researched, well-written, well-organized, and balanced account. . . . A model of the historians' craft."--Slavery and Abolition

"Our Rightful Share represents admirably exhaustive research, excellent analysis, and impressively balanced conclusions. Its extraordinarily rich archival and secondary sources are examined with exemplary skill and commendable sensitivity."--Franklin W. Knight, The Johns Hopkins University

"A major contribution to the literature on race, culture, and politics in the post-emancipation Americas. Clearly and vividly written, and making skillful and creative use of rich primary sources, it is a worthy companion volume to Rebecca Scott's Slave Emancipation in Cuba."--George Reid Andrews, University of Pittsburgh