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AfroCuban Connection

(Askia Toure and Nicolas Hernandez Guillen, Grandson of Nicolas Guillen, Cuba’s National Poet.)

A Special Appeal for Brother Askia Toure


I’m writing this email to make a special request. Brother Askia Toure has been invited to Cuba to attend the Nicolas Gillian Poetry Conference on July 8th to the 14th in Havana. As you may be aware, Brother Askia attended the Black Arts Movement Roundtable trip to Cuba in the spring. Askia got to meet with Nicolas Hernandez Gillian, the grandson of Nicolas Gillian, and the president of the Nicolas Gillian Foundation.

Askia was invited to participate on the program for this international conference. The problem is that Askia does not have the resources to attend this Conference.

I’m making a special appeal to you to help support Askia so that he may attend and participate in this conference. We are trying to raise $1500 to help him make this trip. I know that times are hard and resources are thin. However, I’m asking that you donate whatever amount you can. Nothing is too small or too large.

This is a very important honor for Askia, and I hope that you can help to make this trip possible. As you know, Askia is one of the leading poets in the country, and has four major books of poetry published. He won the American Book Award for his book "From the Pyramids to the Projects." His most recent book Dawnsong! is a major work exalting the Ancient beauty, wisdom and contribution of African women and their civilization to the world. He was awarded the Gwendolyn Brooks Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995 and this year The Cambridge Poetry Festival Lifetime Achievement Award.

Besides Askia’s published works, he has been a political activist for over 40 years. As a former member of SNCC he is one the authors of the "Position Paper on Black Power" which was later articulated by Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Toure). Askia was also one of the Architects of the 1960’s Black Art’s Movement with Larry Neal, Amiri Baraka and Sonia Sanchez. Askia has been living in Boston working with and mentoring young and emerging poets and cultural workers.

Askia is someone who has given and contributed so much for the freedom and self-determination of African Americans, Africans and Africans in the Diaspora, as well as struggling for a more humane world. It would be fitting for us to give a little for someone who has given so much.

I hope that you will be able to make a donation to help Askia attend and participate in the Nicolas Gilliam Poetry Conference in Havana, Cuba.

Make your donations to:

Cultural Encounters

Mail to:

Cultural Encounters

C/o Clemencia Lee
130 Dartmouth Street #309
Boston, MA 02116

Thank you in advance for your support.


Tony Menelik Van Der Meer


See also for additional background.


Visit Cuba from June 28 to July 14, 2002top

The focus of this trip is to connect with Afro-Cubans and see for ourselves how their cultural life of visual arts, music, dance, spiritual practices and literature (oral and written) have been influenced by traditional African religion.

Through this licensed cultural exchange, primarily with African diaspora community workers, artists, priest and priestess and other cultural workers across generations, we will engage in a people to people dialogue about our experiences and look at ways in which they are connected. The trip is scheduled for 15 days. During this time we  will visit Guantanamo, Santiago de Cuba and Havana.

See for contact info and details. Previous visits have brought over members of the Black Arts Mouvement Roundtable.



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