By Rebecca Zanolini
Fifty-one years ago today in the Dominican Republic, sisters Patria, Minerva, and Maria Teresa Mirabal were brutally murdered by orders of their then-government leader, Rafael Trujillo, also known as el jefe.
The sisters were known by their supporters and revolutionary colleagues as las mariposas ---the butterflies. These brave sisters helped initiate a road to justice and equality in their small island country that had been under the rule of a vicious dictator for nearly 30 years.
During his reign of terror, it is estimated that Trujillo had tens of thousands of people murdered for opposing his government and his desire to eradicate neighboring dark-skinned Haitians from the island. Because of the valiant effort and tragic death of the Mirabal sisters, many countries in Latin America recognize today, November 25, as the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women.
Thus, on this post-Thanksgiving Day, I encourage us all to take a moment of silence - in remembrance of the Mirabal sisters who lost their lives on November 25, 1960, and in remembrance of the thousands of lives who have been both directly and indirectly impacted by violence towards women. To honor these women and the women in your life, wear a butterfly today and share this story or your own story with others.
Long live the butterflies!
About the author: My name is Rebecca Zanolini, and I am currently a full-time Spanish Instructor with Middle Tennessee State University. I hold a Master of Arts in Teaching and an Educational Specialist degree (Ed.S.) in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Culture, Cognition, and the Learning Process. Currently I am pursuing doctoral studies in Curriculum and Instruction at Tennessee State University. Beyond my passion for teaching the Spanish language, I am passionate about achieving social and educational equality for Tennesseans of minority and immigrant backgrounds and improving the quality of life for all people in our community. Most recently, I have served on the Equity Task Force Committee with Franklin Special School District, volunteered with FUTURO of MTSU, and helped to lead and moderate an equality forum at MTSU known as, “We are Created E.Q.U.A.L.”