“Here’s to great women; may we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.”
As many of us know, March is Women’s History Month! On the eighth, we celebrated International Women’s Day, which corresponds with this annual, month-long observation that recognizes the contributions of women to history and society, all around the world.
This month is especially a unique time for me because of my most recent trip to an incredible place here in the Dominican Republic. I had the opportunity to visit the home of Las Hermanas Mirabal.
The Mirabal sisters: Minerva, Patria, María Teresa and Dedé (who recently passed away in February of 2014) were pivotal key figures against Rafael Trujillo and his dictatorship during the 1930s. These women, primarily Minerva, Patria and María Teresa, were members of the “Fourteenth of June” movement that opposed the Trujillo regime.
The night before our trip to the House Museum of the Mirabal Sisters, my program members and I got together to watch In the Time of the Butterflies, the 2001 film based loosely on the lives of the women. Never mind the fact that their faces are on the $200 peso bill and that I had studied Trujillo’s dictatorship in my free time when I was younger, I knew very little of the Mirabal sisters. After watching the movie however, I felt inspired and in awe of these women.
The next morning, we set out to Salcedo; first to Casa Museo de las Hermanas Mirabal, the house where they spent the last few years of their lives, and after to Ojo de Agua, their childhood home. After visiting the Haitian and Dominican border just a week before and seeing the Massacre River (Dajabón River) with my own eyes, this trip to the Mirabal house had even more meaning to me than just another trip to a museum.
Upon entering the town of Salcedo, butterfly images and murals of the sisters were everywhere. It was clear to see their impact and remaining legacy. Because of their involvement in the opposition against the government, on November 25, 1960, they were beaten to death by men under Trujillo’s instruction. Their death, which was made to appear as an automobile accident, was the match that lit the fire during this time. Shortly after, Trujillo was assassinated. Furthermore, something I was surprised to discover, the death of Las Hermanas Mirabal, November 25th, is now observed in many countries as the “International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.”
Altogether, because of the bravery, resilience and determination of these sisters, their spirit lives on and continues to inspire women and men all around the world to this day. From women like Michelle Obama and Lisa Hanna, to my friends, new and old, my mother and other strong women in my family, I’m grateful to have met, known and learned about great women who influence me daily.
So here’s to great women. May we know them, may we be them and may we raise them. Here’s to great women…here’s to the Mirabal sisters.
From the Dominican Republic…with love,