Textbook: None. Selected writings found online will constitute the textbook.
Read the following information on Mariana Grajales y Cuello. Relate the information to the following questions to the best of your ability.
(1) What is a cimmarron, and how did
the treatment of the cimmarrons affect Mariana Grajales y Cuello?
(2) What approach did Mariana and her husband Marcos use to teach their children that can be useful to Black parents in the United States today?
(3) Mariana was a humble woman, yet she made it clear that all of her children should go to war in defense of Cuba. Do you think Black People in the United States realize they will have to go to war before they can obtain freedom and govern themselves?
(4) Mariana fought on the battlefield, nursed wounded soldiers and taught those around her how to be committed to a just cause. Are these the type things that the term "acting" should refer to?
Mariana Grajales y Cuello was born on June 26, 1808 in Santiago de Cuba. Her parents were Jose Grajales and Teresa Cuello, free mulattos from Santo Domingo. Mariana grew up in extreme poverty. Although she was free, she lived close to cimmarrons (escaped slaves) and was aware of the abuse they faced. Her sympathy with the plight of the cimmarrons helped form Mariana's patriotic convictions and make her willing to endure the greatest of sacrifices.
In 1843 Mariana entered into a common law marriage with Marcos Maceo, a Venezuelan. Between her first marriage and that with Maceo, Mariana bore nine sons and three daughters. Mariana Grajales and Marcos Maceo oriented their children toward the highest ethical and moral values, emphasizing honesty, justice, goodwill, hard work, dedication, personal fortitude, antiracism and solidarity with those who fought for justice and freedom. They also taught them to love nature, be delicate with women and act like gentlemen in the presence of men.
Mariana and Marcus taught their children about slavery, the cruel life of the cimmarrons, the cruelty launched against the slaves and free Blacks, the trafficking and sale of women, men and children, and the torture of racial discrimination. Marcus spoke to the children about the Venezuelan struggle for independence, and taught the children how to use the machete as an arm of war. Mariana constantly made references to the war in Haiti and reminded the children of their ties to that great struggle. This type of home training and education helped the boys become brave warriors, and every single one of them fought on the battle field for Cuba's liberty.
During the 1840s, the political situation in Cuba was difficult, threatening, and brutal. Although they had a house in Santiago, Mariana and her family lived in relative liberty in the country, and did not feel the despotism and cast system imposed on Cubans by the Spanish. But Mariana believed Cuba should be free and independent, and she reminded her children that they should go to battle in defense of Cuba and liberty or die trying. Eventually, all of her sons and her husband died fighting for Cuba's
independence. She herself was recognized for her bravery on the battle field, and she nursed the wounded when she wasn't actually fighting. She firmly believed that it was the woman's role to support those who were fighting the war or die with them.
Some say Mariana grew up illiterate, but others say not so. In either case, she became very literate somewhere along the way, and taught her children how to read and write. She was a humble woman, but she made the Maceo name synonymous with Cuban patriotism. She became known as the "raiz del alma cubana" (source of the Cuban soul) "la madre mayor" (Queen Mother) and "Nuestra (Our) Mariana."
For her patriotism, bravery and commitment to making her family play its proper role in Cuba's march toward independence from Spain, Mariana is honored throughout Cuba. In the city of Guantanamo Revolution Plaza, which honors Cuba's greatest heroes, is dedicated to her. In Santiago, her house is a museum. In the city of Santa Clara one finds a stone monument dedicated to Mariana and a bronze sculpture in the City of Habana. She was a Cuban of epic proportions, one that all Black People can learn from.
Noble words are nice and have their place, but Mariana recognized that action is supreme. Mariana Grajales y Cuello is an exceptional Profile In Black.