Famous Black Cubans
The Beautiful People of African Cuban Heritage.
Rarely included in the history of African Americans and/or Latinos in the United States, are the histories of Black Cubans. They often fall through the cracks of historical study.
In frustration of not finding a collective list of ‘Famous Afro Cubans or Black Cubans’, I compiled a list of the most famous living and non living Black Latin Cubans in Hollywood, in Music, and in the world of Sports.
Christina Milian (born Christine Flores on September 26, 1981) is a Cuban-American R&B and pop singer-songwriter, record producer, dancer, and actress. Born in Jersey City, New Jersey, Milian moved to Los Angeles when she was thirteen years old, desiring to be an actress. Compared to Beyoncé and Jennifer Lopez, Milian made her official musical appearance on Ja Rule's song, "Between Me and You". Milian released her first solo single, "AM to PM", which became a worldwide hit. The success of "AM to PM" sparked the international release of the Christina Milian album. The album was supposed to be released in the United States in 2001, but due to the September 11 attacks, which occurred just two weeks before the release date, the album was postponed. Milian decided not to release her previous album, Christina Milian domestically, and started working on a new album.
Orlando Hernández Pedroso (born October 11, 1965 in Villa Clara, Cuba), nicknamed El Duque, is a Major League Baseball right-handed starting pitcher for the New York Mets. His greatest success came as a New York Yankees starter during that team's run of World Series championships in 1998, 1999, and 2000. He also won a championship in 2005 with the Chicago White Sox.
José Ariel Contreras Camejo (born December 6, 1971 in Las Martinas, Pinar del Río, Cuba) is a right-handed Major League Baseball starting pitcher for the Chicago White Sox, nicknamed "The Count". He previously played for the New York Yankees (2003-2004) as well as the Cuban national team.
Celia Cruz (October 21, 1925 – July 16, 2003) was a Cuban salsa singer, and was one of the most successful Cuban performers of the 20th century, with twenty-three gold albums to her name. She was renowned internationally as the "Queen of Salsa," as well as "La guarachera de Cuba". She spent most of her career living in New Jersey, and working in the United States and several Latin American countries.
Georg Stanford Brown (born June 24, 1943 in Havana, Cuba) is an Cuban-American actor and Emmy Award winning director, perhaps best known as one of the stars of the ABC police television series The Rookies from 1972-76.
Brown played Tom Harvey (son of Chicken George, great-grandson of Kunta Kinte, and great grandfather of Alex Haley) in the 1977 television miniseries Roots, and 1979's Roots: The Next Generations. More recently, Brown had a recurring role on the FX Networks drama series Nip/Tuck.
Tata Güines (born Federico Aristides Soto y Alejoà June 30, 1930, died February 4, 2008) was a Cuban percussionist on the tumbadora, or conga drum, as well as a composer. He was important in the first generation of Afro-Cuban jazz.
Lola Falana (born Loletha Elaine Falana on September 11, 1942 in Camden, New Jersey) is an American dancer and actress of Cuban and African American descent. Falana's father left Cuba to become a welder in the United States, where he met his wife. Falana spent most of her childhood in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Mirka Francia (born 14 February 1975) is a Cuban-Italian volleyball player who has won two Olympic gold medals with the Cuba women's national volleyball team. At 1.84 meters (6 feet) tall, she played as a blocker before becoming a hitter in 2004.
Annia Portuondo Hatch (born June 14, 1978 in Guantánamo, Cuba) is a Cuban-American gymnast, who competed at the 2004 Olympics. Hatch began gymnastics in her native Cuba at the age of five. She won her first Cuban National Championships at the age of ten; over the course of her career she would win the title a total of seven times.
Competing for Cuba, Hatch made her debut at the World Gymnastics Championships in 1993. She placed tenth in the all-around. In 1995 she picked up three medals at the Pan Am Games, placing fourth in the all-around, second on the balance beam, and third on the vault and uneven bars. The following year, in 1996, she became the first Cuban gymnast ever to win a medal at the World Championships with a bronze on the vault. The result, however, was controversial, as many experts believed Annia's performance merited the gold medal over Romania's Gina Gogean and Simona Amanar.
Wifredo Oscar de la Concepción Lam y Castilla (b. December 8, 1902, Sagua La Grande, Cuba; September 11, 1982, Paris, France), better known as Wifredo Lam, was a Cuban artist who sought to portray and revive the enduring Afro-Cuban spirit and culture. Inspired by and in contact with some of the most renowned artists of the twentieth century, Lam melded his influences and created a unique style, which was ultimately characterized by the prominence of hybrid figures. Though he was predominantly a painter, he also worked with sculpture and ceramics in his later life.
Luis Moro in track and field commercial and at The Havana Film Festival in Cuba 2003
Luis Moro (born January 2, 1964) is an Afro Cuban-born actor, filmmaker, and writer. His first notable appearance was the nomination for two Independent Spirit Award for co-writing, Producing and acting in the award winning film Anne B. Real . Since then, he has acted, written and produced many more films. The films final "Screen story by" writers credit went to Luis for his screenplay rewrites on Anne B. Real. He also co-wrote all the main Hip-Hop rap lyrics in the film performed by the lead character of Cynthia, the lyrics are also her diary entries through out the entire story. After Anne B. Real, Luis produced three films demonstrating his diversity as an actor, writer and filmmaker. On occasion, he leads training courses for New York Youth at Risk. He also lead training courses for youth at risk kids in Crenshaw, California.
He’s an all around athlete, winning many trophies, medals and awards; including a NCAA award for football at Rutgers University. Luis is an alumni brother of Phi Gamma Delta “Fiji” fraternity at Rutgers. Was a founding member of the Latin American Kiwanis, NJ. Produced concerts for Celia Cruz, and Hispanic corporate achievers. His youth was spent as a student council president at Union Hills High, All county and all state football players, as well as starting for the New Jersey North South all Star game. Luis won gold medals in over one hundred track and field events during his high school career. His biggest accomplishment is raising five kids with his production partner and wife .
Saturnino Orestes Armas Miñoso Arrieta, commonly referred to as Minnie Miñoso (mean-YO-so, commonly pronounced minn-OH-so by media) (born November 29, 1925 in Havana, Cuba), is a former star left fielder in Major League Baseball. He had earlier been a standout third baseman in the Negro Leagues, and would later play several seasons in Mexican baseball. He was nicknamed "The Cuban Comet" as well as "Mr. White Sox", and while playing in Mexico was "El Charro Negro" — "The Black Cowboy". He is one of just two players in Major League history to play in five separate decades (1940s-80s), the other being Nick Altrock. With brief appearances with the independent Northern League's St. Paul Saints in 1993 and 2003, Miñoso is the only player to have played professionally in 7 different decades. He was also the last Major Leaguer to have played in the 1940s to play a Major League game.
René Muñoz (February 19, 1938 – May 11, 2000) was a Cuban actor and scriptwriter of telenovelas and the cinema of Mexico.
He is most remembered for his role in the Spanish film Fray Escoba.
Carlos (Conill) Paula (November 28, 1927 – April 25, 1983) was a Major League Baseball right fielder who played for the Washington Senators from 1954 to 1956. A native of Havana, Cuba, he stood 6'3" and weighed 195 lbs.
Paula was acquired by Washington via a transaction with the Paris, Texas team of the Big State League before the 1954 season. He was sent to the Senators Charlotte, North Carolina affiliate, the Charlotte Hornets (baseball), on March 30, 1954. When he made his major league debut (September 6, 1954 at Griffith Stadium), he became the first black player in Washington Senators history. He got into nine games that month.
Mariane van Neyenhoff Pearl (born July 23, 1967) is a French freelance journalist and a reporter and columnist for Glamour magazine. She is the widow of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter who was kidnapped and murdered by terrorists in Pakistan in early 2002.
Pearl was born in Clichy, Hauts-de-Seine, France to a Dutch-Jewish father and an Afro-Chinese-Cuban mother. She was raised in Paris and met Daniel Pearl while he was on assignment there.
They married in August 1999, lived for a time in Mumbai, India where Daniel was the South Asia bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal, and later traveled to Karachi, Pakistan to cover aspects of the War on Terrorism. Their son Adam Daniel was born in Paris three months after his father died.
Ana Fidelia Quirot (born March 23, 1963 in Palma Soriano) is an athlete from Cuba, who specialized in the 800 m but was also successful over 400 m.
Quirot won a silver medal at the 1991 IAAF World Championships in Athletics and a bronze medal in the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. However the following year she was involved in a horrific domestic accident that left her seriously injured. She was pregnant at the time and gave birth to her daughter prematurely in hospital while fighting for her life. Her daughter did not survive and died a week after she was born.
She returned from her accident in late 1993 and won a silver medal in the Central America Games, behind the Surinam athlete Letitia Vriesde. She enjoyed great international success in the following years too: she won a gold medal at the 1995 IAAF World Championships in Athletics in Sweden and again in 1997 in Athens. She also won a silver at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.
Jon Secada (born Juan Francisco Secada on October 4, 1962) is an Afro-Cuban singer and songwriter. Secada was born in Havana, Cuba, and raised in Hialeah, Florida. He has won two Grammy Awards and sold 20 million albums since his English-language debut album in 1992. His music fuses funk, soul, pop and Latin percussion. Secada also has appeared as a songwriter for Gloria Estefan, Enrique Iglesias, Jennifer Lopez, Ricky Martin, Mandy Moore and other performers.
Danilo Tartabull Mora (born October 30, 1962), also known as Danny Tartabull, is a former right fielder in Major League Baseball. Born to Cuban parents in San Juan, Puerto Rico, he is the son of José Tartabull, who played in the major leagues from 1962 to 1970. Tartabull became a free agent after the 1991 season and signed a lucrative deal with the Yankees worth more than $5 million a year, but he never again matched his production in Kansas City.
In July 1995 the Yankees traded Tartabull for Rubén Sierra. Following his trade out of New York, Tartabull expressed his disdain for Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, saying that getting out of New York was like "getting freed from prison. The Athletics in turn traded him to the White Sox the following winter, and Tartabull wound up his 14-year career with the Phillies in 1997, appearing in just three games. Tartabull retired following the 1997 season with a career batting average of .273, 262 home runs and 925 runs batted in.
Gina Torres (born April 25, 1969) is an American television and movie actress. She is known for her roles in science fiction and fantasy. She has appeared in many television series, including Mad TV, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (as Nebula), Xena: Warrior Princess (as Cleopatra), the short-lived Cleopatra 2525, as well as Alias (as Anna Espinosa), Firefly (as series regular Zoe Washburne), Angel (as Jasmine), The Matrix sequels in a supporting role, and The Shield. She also starred in the award-winning indie South of Pico as the fragile waitress (Carla). She is married to Lawrence Fishburn.
Lesbia Claudina Vent Dumois (born November 6, 1932 in Cruces, Las Villas, Cuba) is a contemporary Cuban visual artist, whose works include illustration, painting, and engraving. Vent Dumois studied at the Escuela de Artes Plásticas in Santa Clara, Cuba under Leopoldo Romañach. In 1961 she obtained a UNESCO fellowship to study lithography in Prague. In 1968 she was a member of the Taller Experimental de Gráfica (TEG), in Havana.
From 1980 to 1993 she was Director of Fine Arts at the Casa de las Américas in Havana, and since 1993 is Vice President of the Casa de las Américas.
Joel "El Cepillo" Casamayor Johnson (born July 12, 1971 in Guantanamo, Cuba) is a Cuban boxer, who turned pro after defecting to the United States on the eve of the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. The nickname "El Cepillo", literally translated to "the hairbrush", comes from his uppercut, which rakes his opponents across the face.
Casamayor is a two time champion, and current WBO interim Lightweight champion, as well as The Ring magazines world champion.
Rita was born July 25, 1946 in Santiago de Cuba, to Leroy Anderson and Cynthia "Beda" Jarrett. She grew up in the upper level of Beachwood, located in Kingston, Jamaica. Bob was from the lower level of Trenchtown. In the mid sixties Rita was singing with a trio named The Soulettes who were recording for Studio One, when she met Bob Marley. The Soulettes became the I Threes
Rita married Bob on 10 February 1966, and then became a singer in his backing vocals group, the I Threes. She converted to the Rastafari movement after witnessing Haile Selassie on his visit to Kingston, Jamaica on 21 April 1966. After Marley's death, she recorded a few albums under her name with some success in the United Kingdom and took care of Marley's estate.
Ibrahim Ferrer (February 20, 1927 – August 6, 2005) was a popular Afro-Cuban singer and musician in Cuba. He performed with many musical groups including the Afro-Cuban All Stars. Later in life, Ferrer became a member of the internationally successful Buena Vista Social Club. His increasing popularity lead to collaborations with contemporary acts such as Gorillaz.
Ferrer was born at a dance in San Luis, near the city of Santiago de Cuba. His mother died when he was 12, leaving him orphaned and forcing him to sing on the streets (busk) to earn money. The next year, Ferrer joined his first ever musical group, a duet alongside his cousin called Jovenes del Son (Spanish: Youths of Rhythm). They performed at private functions and the two youths managed to scrape together enough money to live.
Over the next few years, Ferrer would perform with many musical groups, including Conjunto Sorpresa and Orquesta Chepin-Choven.
The leader of the latter composed one of Ferrer's biggest hits, "El Platanal de Bartolo".
Afro-Cuban All-Stars is a Cuban band led by Juan de Marcos González(formerly tres player for Sierra Maestra). Their music is a mix of all the styles of Cuban music, including bolero, chachachá, salsa, son montuno, timba,guajira, danzón, rumba and abakua. They are known internationally for their1997 album A Toda Cuba Le Gusta, which was recorded at the Buena Vista Social Club sessions. Members have included Rubén González, Orlando "Cachaito" Lopez, Ibrahim Ferrer, Raul Planas, Pío Leyva, Manuel "Puntillita" Licea, Yanko Pisaco and more recently Caridad Hierrezuelo and Pedro Calvo.
Gilbert Jay Arenas Jr. (born January 6, 1982, in Tampa, Florida) is a Cuban-American professional basketball player in the NBA. He currently plays for the Washington Wizards.
From the time of his entry into the league, Arenas's popularity soared. He transformed himself from being a relative unknown to being voted by fans as an All-Star starter for the Eastern Conference in 2007. Now considered to be one of the best point guards in the NBA, but still is known as a "shoot first" point guard. Arenas overcame a 213,000 vote deficit at one point to edge out Vince Carter by just over 3,000 votes for the second of the two starting guard spots, the other spot going to Dwyane Wade. Arenas was most often nicknamed "Agent Zero," but has increasingly been referred to as "Hibachi," a nod to the small Japanese grill, which literally translates to "bowl of fire." Both names have quickly become fan favorites in the Washington area.
Atanasio Pérez Rigal, more commonly known as Tony Pérez (born May 14, 1942 in Ciego de Ávila, Cuba), is a former player in Major League Baseball. He was also known by the nickname "Big Dawg."
Tony Pérez was named the Most Valuable Player in the south Coast League in 1964 when he played for the San Diego Padres. Perez hit .309 with 34 home runs and 107 RBI for the Padres. His performance earned him a promotion to the Reds at the end of the 1964 season.
After playing third base in the early part of his career with the Cincinnati Reds, from 1972 onward he starred at first base. Until he was traded in December, 1976, Pérez was a key member of Cincinnati's "Big Red Machine". Apart from his years with the Reds, '84-86), he also played for the Montreal Expos), Boston Red Sox) and Philadelphia Phillies (1983). After retiring, Pérez went on to manage with the Reds and Florida Marlins. He currently holds the title of Special Assistant to the General Manager with the Marlins.
Renny Arozarena is a Cuban actor, born in Havana in 1971.
He started acting as a child, making his professional debut on the stage in leading roles in Andoba, Santa Camila de la Habana Vieja, Romeo et Juliette, Othello, among others. He is now director of a theatre group. He has been in films such as Entre Ciclones, Bajo Habana and El loco soñador.
The film El Benny marks his first leading role in films. It was presented at the Locarno International Film Festival in August 2006, where Arozarena won the Boccalino prize for best performance for protagonist in all sections of festival. The Hollywood Reporter said "It is actor Arozarena who brings the legend to life, however, in a memorably dynamic performance.”
Eligio Sardiñas Montalvo (January 6, 1910 – August 8, 1988), better known as Kid Chocolate, was a Cuban boxer who enjoyed wild success both in the boxing ring and in society life during a span of the 1930s.
Chocolate, nicknamed The Cuban Bon Bon, learned how to fight by watching old fight films in Cuba. He later sparred with boxers such as Benny Leonard and Jack Johnson, all world champions, before beginning an amateur boxing career. As an amateur, he won all 100 of his fights, 86 by knockout.
Matt Cedeño (born November 14, 1974) is an American actor and former male fashion model.
He was born in Moses Lake, Washington to an Afro-Cuban father and an Irish-English mother and he starred in the American soap opera Days of Our Lives. Also, he played a movie role as Carlos co-starring with Laura Prepon (That 70s Show) Oxygen Channel film, Romancing the Bride (2005).
Before becoming an actor he was a runway and magazine model in Italy, Spain and the US for various high-fashion designers including Versace. Matt played a young boxer in the feature film Price of Glory (Jimmy Smits plays the same character years later) and also appeared in the movie The Suburbans with Jennifer Love Hewitt and Ben Stiller.
Martín Magdaleno Dihigo Llanos (May 25, 1906 - May 20, 1971) was a Cuban player in baseball's Negro Leagues and Latin American leagues who excelled at several positions, primarily as a pitcher and second baseman. He was born in the sugarmill Jesús María (town of Cidra) in Matanzas Province, Cuba.
Dihigo began his professional career in the winter of 1922–23 at the age of 16 as a substitute infielder for Habana in the Cuban League. His first summer in U.S. baseball came in 1923 as a first baseman for the Negro Leagues' Cuban Stars (East). He played in the Negro Leagues from 1923 through 1936 and again briefly in 1945. Over the course of his career he made seamless transitions between all nine positions, making him one of the most versatile baseball player ever. As a hitter, he led the Negro Leagues in home runs in 1926 and 1935. As a pitcher he once defeated Satchel Paige when the latter was touring Cuba.
Beny (sometimes Benny) Moré (August 24, 1919 – February 19, 1963) is considered by many fans of Cuban music as the greatest Cuban singer of all time. He was gifted with an innate musicality and fluid tenor voice which he colored and phrased with great expressivity. Moré was a master all the genres of Cuban music, including son montuno, mambo, guaracha, guajira, cha cha cha, Afro-Cuban, canción, guaguancó, and bolero.
Sergio Oliva is known in bodybuilding circles as "The Myth". This sobriquet was given to him by bodybuilder/writer Rick Wayne. Wayne had begun calling Oliva "The Myth" "(because everyone who saw him at the 1967 Montreal World's Fair said he was "JUST UNBELIEVABLE")".
Oliva was born in Cuba on July 4, 1941. At the age of twelve he worked with his father in the sugar canefields of Guambaco. When Oliva was 16, his father suggested that he enlist in Fulgencio Batista's army. In the absence of a birth certificate, the recruiting officer took the senior Oliva's word that his son was old enough to enlist in the fight against communism.
Fantasia Monique Barrino (born June 30, 1984), or simply Fantasia, is an American R&B/soul singer and Broadway actress who rose to fame as the winner of the third season of the television series American Idol in 2004. Her first album, Free Yourself, was certified platinum and received four Grammy nominations. Her second album, Fantasia, was certified gold, received three Grammy nominations and featured the 8-week #1 Billboard Hot R&B hit "When I See U."
Following a critically acclaimed run on Broadway as Celie in the musical, The Color Purple, Fantasia was cast to star in the movie version of the musical, which is slated to begin production in 2009.
Fantasia was born and raised in High Point, North Carolina, to Joseph & Diane Barrino. In her autobiography, Life Is Not a Fairytale, Fantasia explains that a family rumor suggests her father's family was of Cuban and Trinidadian descent, explaining the surname Barrino (a rare surname for African Americans in North Carolina).
Alexei Ramírez Rodríguez (born September 22, 1981 in Pinar del Río, Cuba) is a Major League Baseball second baseman and center fielder for the Chicago White Sox. His nickname is "the Cuban Missile" due to his combination of speed and power.
In seven years of playing baseball in Cuba, Ramírez spent most of his time playing shortstop and outfield. He has a batting average of .335 in Cuba, and led the league in 2007 with 20 home runs while posting a .338 average. Ramírez played center field for Cuba at the 2006 World Baseball Classic, collecting 6 hits in 16 at-bats and impressing US scouts in the process. He hits and throws right-handed.
Yotuel Omar Manzanarez Romero (born October 6, 1976) was born in Havana, Cuba. is an singer, actor and musician current lead singer and co-writer of the 2003 Latin Grammy Award winner Platinum album selling rap group Orishas. Among other recordings, Emigrante won the 2003 Latin Grammy Award for Best Rap/Hip-Hop Album. This same album was also nominated for the 2003 Grammy Award for Best Latin Rock/Alternative Album.
Ultiminio "Sugar" Ramos (born December 2, 1941, Matanzas, Cuba) is a Cuban boxer, who began his boxing career in his native country.
He won the Cuban Featherweight championship belt in 1960 and then fled to Mexico City when Fidel Castro came into power. His record was 55 wins (40 KO's) 8 loses, and 3 Draws. He was elected into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 1992 as both "Ultiminio Ramos" and "Sugar Ramos"--apparently as two different boxers.
Gordon Neil, a fresh and exciting dancer/ choreographer from Atlanta.
Syesha Mercado at the American Idol, Season 7, Top 12, after party on March 6, 2008.
Mercado was the third-place finalist on the seventh season of the television series American Idol.
Faizon Love (born Langston Faizon Santisima; June 14, 1968) is a Cuban-American actor.
Most of Love's publicity materials state that he was born in Newark, New Jersey, but other publicity sources give his birthplace as either Santiago de Cuba or San Diego, California.
Love got his start as a stand-up comedian and made his acting debut in an Off-Broadway at the age of 19. His first film Bebe's Kids had him providing the voice of Robin Harris. Harris died before production began and Love replaced him with an accurate impression. He then had a role in The Meteor Man starring Robert Townsend. Townsend then cast Love in a co-starring role on his sitcom The Parent 'Hood. José Silvestre White Lafitte (17 January 1836 in Matanzas, Cuba - 12–15 March 1918, Paris, France), also known as Joseph, was a Cuban violinist and composer. His father was Spanish and his mother was Afro-Cuban.
He studied at the Paris Conservatory between the years 1855 and 1871 and was highly praised by Rossini. From 1877 to 1889 he was director of the Imperial Conservatory in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, after which he returned to Paris to spend the rest of his days.
His most famous work is La bella cubana, a habanera.
Ulpiano Sergio Reyes (born April 12, 1967) is a Cuban rapper known as Mellow Man Ace and original member of the rap group, Cypress Hill.
Originally a member of Cypress Hill before going solo and releasing his album prior to the group's debut, Reyes teamed with his brother Sen Dog to release a duo album as The Reyes Brothers. Although he has guest featured on Cypress Hill albums, this marks the first collaborative LP effort between the two brothers, with their album Ghetto Therapy released October 3, 2006 on Latin Thug Records.
Sen Dog (born Senen Reyes in Havana, Cuba) is a Cuban rapper, and member of rap group Cypress Hill. He is the older brother of fellow rapper Mellow Man Ace.
- Lucrecia (Perez Saez)
- Candido Fabre
- Elena Burke
- Mica Paris
- Omar Linares
- Miguelito Cuni
- Arsenio Rodriguez
- Tony Oliva
- Rafael Serra
- Antonio Maceo
- my precious hassanitos (smile)
- Dr. Alberto Jones
- Victor Dreke
- Pedro Luis Lazo
- Mongo Santamaria
- Hippolita (Godmother of Simon Bolivar)
- Francisco Aguabella
- Chano Pozo
- Carlota (leader of slave uprising)
- et al
- Irene Carera