José Julián Martí y Pérez, born on January 28, 1853 in Havana, Cuba, is a Cuban national hero and a prominent figure in Latin American literature. Martí was dedicated to Cuba’s independence and published his first newspaper La Patria Libre (Free Fatherland) in 1869. After denouncing a pro-Spanish classmate, José was sentenced to six years of hard labor.
Martí went to college in Madrid and Zaragoza in Spain, where he published El presidio político en Cuba, an attack on Cuban prisons. From 1881 until 1895, he lived in New York, writing on life in the United States for several Latin newspapers and magazines including Opinión Nacional (Caracas) and La Nación (Buenos Aires).
In addition to a publishing, literary, and teaching career, Martí spent his time planning Cuba’s fight for independence from Spain. In 1892, he founded the Cuban Revolutionary Party. His work and efforts were crucial to the success of the Cuban War of Independence. He died during the Battle of Dos Ríos on May 19, 1895.
On Martí, Nicaraguan poet Rubén Darío said he belonged to “an entire race, an entire continent.”