Ybor City

Crucible of the Latina South

By Sarah McNamara

266 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 12 halftones, 1 map

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-6816-1
    Published: April 2023
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-6815-4
    Published: April 2023
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-6817-8
    Published: February 2023

Justice, Power, and Politics

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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.

About the Author

Sarah McNamara is assistant professor of history at Texas A&M University.

For more information about Sarah McNamara, visit the Author Page.


"Sarah McNamara brings a dedication to historical craft—a fealty to the archives as well as command of oral history as practice and praxis. Writing with passion and precision, she always ensures that her interpretations are solidly grounded in primary sources. Ybor City will become a benchmark work in Latino history, labor studies, and the U.S. South."—Vicki L. Ruiz, University of California, Irvine

"In masterfully recovering the world of the Cuban women and other Latinas who called Ybor City home, Sarah McNamara offers important new stories about racial, class, and gender politics in this often-forgotten city of the Jim Crow South. She takes the reader on the women's powerful journeys through Ybor's cigar factories, centros, and dance floors as they fought the colonial, imperialist, and anti-labor forces that consumed their day-to-day lives."—Julio Capó Jr., Florida International University

"Ybor City is poised to make valuable contributions to women's history, labor history, urban history, and Latinx history. Through McNamara's focus on Cuban women laborers and organizers at the end of the nineteenth century and in the first half of the twentieth, we learn valuable lessons about three generations of Americans in a southern city."—Perla M. Gurrero, University of Maryland