Harlem Review – Andres Camacho

A place I always found deeply interesting and highly value adding to the Harlem

neighborhood is the Mirabal Sisters Cultural and Community Center. It is named after the

courageous Mirabal Sisters from the Dominican Republic. They were political activists sisters

who strongly opposed the tyranny of dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo who governed the country

in a hateful and oppressive manner from 1930 to 1961 (his death). He ran the country as his

own business and even managed to privatize it as his own. Due to this, he was the 6th richest

man in the world. They participated in clandestine acts rebelling the oppressive government. On

November 25th, 1960 after visiting their husbands who were jailed for also being against the

dictator, the sisters were abused, beaten and brutally assasinated by Trujillo’s henchmen. Due

to their bravery and courage to speak up against injustice, the United Nations declared that

every 25th of November to be observed in honor of them.

The Mirabal Sisters Cultural and Community Center was founded in 1990 when a group

of Dominican immigrants wanted to create a place that can help people. The group has devoted

itself to helping people in the Harlem community which is comprised mostly of people of colour

and working class families. One of the things I really liked about the Center is the willingness

they have to help the youth. For example, the partnership with public schools to create more

after-school activities in order to keep kids busy and the cultural program that focuses on the

arts and crafts in the Harlem area.

One of the heads of the institution commented that gentrification is one thing that greatly

concerns them because thousands of lower and middle class families are affected daily as

rental prices have skyrocketed to an alarming level, especially after the pandemic in 2021. One

of the things the center does is fight for these families, either seeking financial assistance or

helping to negotiate a more economical rent for those families who do not have many


According to the internet, the center is a sacred and joyful place for Luis, the founder,

since it is one of his deep passions, helping others. Something that has caused their impact to

not be amplified as much is that they are self-financing since they are a small organization and

this causes them to get little support from the larger community and the government. A phrase

that I really liked that the founder says a lot is “Work like this can only be done from the heart.”

Since it’s nothing you are going to get rich on. It is something you do because you are genuinely

interested in helping others.

Simply put, the integral work of the Mirabal Sisters Cultural and Community Center is to

inform working class families of their rights as tenants or renters and involve themselves in the

community like high school activities. This organization is extremely important to the community

because many people are not aware of their rights, and other people try to take advantage of
their lack of education, so the Center helps them in that sense