23 Pages

Black Americans and the Quest for Empire, 1898–1903

From the outset black Americans sympathized with the “oppressed people” in Cuba, the Philippines, and other portions of the Spanish empire. More important than the condition of these colonial peoples was the fact that many were nonwhite. That the oppressed in Cuba included a sizable colored popu­ lation made it easy for the Negro American to identify with them and to support their aspirations for liberty. For some years, the Negro press had followed closely every development in the Cuban insurrection and had heaped praise upon “black heroes” such as Antonio Maceo. But however great their ad­ miration for such Afro-Cubans, black Americans generally ex­ pressed the hope that Cuban independence could be achieved without disturbing the peace of the United States.3