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A Champion of Cuban-American Cultural Exchange Grapples With a State of Flux

Name (Photos: Mary Reinholz)

Sandra Levinson (Photos: Mary Reinholz)

It was a March night in 1973. Sandra Levinson was working late when a bomb exploded in the inside hall of the Center for Cuban Studies, a leftist non-profit she had co-founded eight months earlier with documentary filmmaker Saul Landau and photojournalist Lee Lockwood. At the time of the blast, CCS was located in a Greenwich Village building on Barrow and West 4th Streets.

Shards of glass sprayed Levinson’s third-floor office. She told me her glasses were broken when a window fell on them. But Levinson, a former reporter for the now defunct Ramparts magazine and a one-time political science instructor at City College of New York, was wearing a heavy poncho and escaped what could have been fatal injuries. The Iowa native believes that the perp was a Cuban exile opposed to the late revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, possibly part of a group of violent extremists.

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Sign of the Times: A Cuban Relic in the West Village

(Photo: Frank Mastropolo)

(Photo: Frank Mastropolo)

In light of President Obama’s momentous meeting with Raul Castro in Cuba today, it’s worth pointing out this ghost sign on the corner of Avenue of the Americas and King Street. It’s one of the few remaining emblems of the countries of the Western Hemisphere to hang on lampposts along the avenue.

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