From his exile in New York City, Martí published this monthly children’s magazine, dedicated to the children of Latin America. Intended to serve both as entertainment and instruction for the future men and women of the region, it was part of Martí’s larger project of fostering a unique Latin American identity. In Cuba, La Edad de Oro is a formative part of children’s education today. It is also integral to the fabric of Cuban popular culture beyond the island since it unites Cuban children across the Cuban diaspora.
Promoting love and justice in the context of a world divided along racial and class distinctions and inequality was a major purpose behind the publication. Martí was heavily concerned with the plight of indigenous peoples and African descendants in the Americas and promoted a Latin American identity based on a shared history. We can see this through poems like, “Los Zapaticos de Rosa,” in which children of different socioeconomic status meet at a beach, and one is wearing rose-colored shoes while the other child is barefoot. The poem ends with what is a well-known act of kindness in the Cuban communal consciousness–the rich child offers her own shoes to the barefooted child.
Intended to serve both as entertainment and instruction for the future men and women of the region, it was part of Marti’s larger project of fostering a unique Latin American identity.
Children are beautiful when they are honest, Martí specifies in his introduction to what he saw as an on-going publication towards the edification of generations of American children. “The purpose of La Edad de Oro,” Martí wrote, “is for children in the Americas to know how people lived before, how we live today, in America, and in other lands as well.” He goes on to encourage children, through a bi-yearly competition, to write to the publication. Martí asked children to not worry about how well-written their questions were, he just wanted children to ask whatever they were curious about.
Martí dreamed of honest men, of “men that could say what was in their mind,” and that they “say it right.” He imagined the children of América to be “eloquent and sincere adults.”
By encouraging children to ask what is in their minds without fear of being wrong and reassuring them that they would be heard and had important knowledge to contribute, Martí envisioned the publication of La Edad de Oro as an ongoing instructional dialogue that would help shape the future men and women of Latin America. Although only four issues were published, these stories, poems, and essays have left a lasting legacy that inspires a love for learning and justice in Cuban children to this day.
“La Edad de Oro (revista de José Martí, 1889),” EcuRed. Accessed March 2020 https://www.ecured.cu/La_Edad_de_Oro_(revista_de_Jos%C3%A9_Mart%C3%AD,_1889)
Martín Llorente, Francisco. Martí y los negros palabras iniciales de Juan Marinello (La Habana: Arquimbau, 1947) Accessed March 2020, http://ufdc.ufl.edu/AA00067377/00001