It is wild to think that before Fidel Castro sided with the Soviet Union, when he was still formulating his relationship with the United States, he would spend 10 fateful days in Harlem at the Theresa Hotel in 1960.
During this time, Fidel met with a number of world and local leaders. Malcolm X and Fidel had a conversation in Fidel’s hotel room:
To see a (poor quality) Cuban news report on the meeting entitled: “Histórico encuentro entre Fidel y Malcolm X”, see:
And Fidel also met with the leader of the Soviet Union, Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev.
This meeting, coupled with the cold shoulder, and insulting behavior of the Americans, tipped Fidel (and thus, revolutionary Cuba) towards the Soviet Union.
While we now view the early 60’s, Cuba, The Soviet Union, and The United States through the lens of the Cuban Missile Crisis – https://www.cfr.org/blog/twe-remembers-learning-more-about-cuban-missile-crisis – it’s important to note that during Fidel’s time in Harlem (his 10 days were a chance to introduce himself to other world leaders and to deliver what turned out to be the longest speech at the United Nations in its history), the US was engaged in the 1960 elections. This election battle was between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon and the election whose televised debate set the stage for all election debates since.
John F. Kennedy, on the campaign trail, came to Harlem, and the Hotel Theresa, less than 2 weeks after Castro. Harlem, therefore, within 2 weeks, had the 3 main characters – Kennedy, Castro, and Krushchev – of the Cuban Missile Crisis, a crisis that in retrospect was the closest the world has come to an intercontinental nuclear war, at Adam Clayton Powell Blvd and 125th Street, all seeking attention and support.
Here is a short, one minute video of Kennedy in Harlem: