Museum of Literacy

In the small Museum of Literacy devoted to commemoration of the origins and progress of the literacy struggle, visitors may study narratives and photographs of several others who encountered the same fate. I know of no other nation where the heroes and heroines of a revolution are so frequently the ones who fought with pen and prim­er, rather than solely those who fought with guns.

—Jonathan Kozol, “A New Look at the Literacy Campaign in Cuba”

Several days ago I blogged photos of posters celebrating the anniversary of Cuba’s unbelievable campaign to establish full literacy in the country in the span of one year. At every turn the campaign sounds like fiction, and in every corner of my research the very best aspects of the campaign are confirmed by its participants. I’m reading Kozol in concert with historical assessments of the projects successes and failures.

Kozol says of his own initial research into the campaign, “I left the center four hours later, convinced that I had discovered the untold education story of our generation.” I, too, am convinced, and I’m spending my time reevaluating everything I assumed to be true about education. It’s nice, and unnerving, and the kind of call to action that leaves you feeling like you’ve just woken after sleeping all night in the open sky.

Kozol is sharing my wonder and keeping me grounded (but only just enough).


The film above is an abbreviated version of a documentary we watched in the literacy musuem. It was created by Catherine Murphy. It is embedded above from Abyayala Productions on Vimeo.

The photos above are my own, taken in the literacy museum on 21 May 2014.