The Mirabal Sisters

Undermining a dictator

Minerva, Patria and María Teresa Mirabal—sisters, all married with children—were not likely revolutionaries. But in the Dominican Republic in the late 1950s they risked their lives resisting the regime of Rafael Trujillo. The state’s murder of the sisters, ages between 25 and 36, on Nov. 25, 1960, outraged the public and triggered Trujillo’s own assassination six months later. After the country’s transition to democracy in the late 1970s, the Butterflies, as Dominicans call the sisters, became symbols of democratic and feminist resistance. The U.N. made the date of their deaths International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.


Rita Moreno

Breaking Hollywood barriers

Rita Moreno’s 1961 breakout role in West Side Story almost made her quit acting. Makeup artists colored her darker, and Moreno, a Puerto Rican native, felt her accent “didn’t make any sense.” She resented being asked to sing “America,” which had lines like “Puerto Rico, you ugly island/Island of tropic diseases.” She spoke up, and the lyrics were changed. In her long career, she hasn’t stopped fighting against typecasting and for fair representation of Latinos. In 1962, she became the first Latina to win an Oscar, going on to take home a rare full EGOT. In 2020, she’ll return to West Side Story—this time as an executive producer.

Soledad O’Brien

O’Brien is a journalist and

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