On Tuesday, February 14, Hostos Community College President Daisy Cocco De Filippis hosted the bilingual panel “A Legacy of Advocacy: Dominican Women and their Struggle for Representation” as part of the College’s 55th Anniversary and Dominican Heritage Month celebrations. 
Dr. Cocco De Filippis welcomed three of her esteemed colleagues in the field of Dominican Studies at the Longwood Art Gallery: Sherezada (Chiqui) Vicioso, writer, essayist, and playwright; Dr. Ramona Hernández, Director of the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute (CUNY DSI); and Sarah Aponte, Chief Librarian of CUNY DSI Library and Archives. All four discussed the lives of Dominican women who, although central to the formation of Dominican identity, have been left out of the archive and the island’s history. Hostos Communications Manager Wilfredo José Burgos-Matos, served as the moderator for the evening. 
The event started with a gracious display of musical talent by Hostos Band members Emmanuel Díaz and Jennifer Guzmán of the Humanities Department, who got everybody to sing along with the Puerto Rican national anthem, “La Borinqueña,” and “Quisqueya,” a classic song about the beauty of the home country for Dominican people globally. After the performance, two New York State Governor’s Office representatives, Sophia Zayas, Director of Latino Affairs, and Minelly De Coo, Deputy Director of Infrastructure, shared remarks. On behalf of NYS Governor Kathy Hochul, they affirmed their excitement in learning more about the importance of Dominican women in history and how much it means to continue to support the College’s mission by attending such trailblazing events. Then, Diana Kreymer, Executive Chief of Staff, reminded the attendees of the many events that will take place at the College through Spring 2023 in observance of the institution’s 55 years of transforming lives in the South Bronx. 

The first panelist was Sherezada (Chiqui) Vicioso, who discussed her archival findings about Dominican women from colonial times to the present. Vicioso took the opportunity to invite students to do more research to challenge the unjust erasures of women from history. For her part, Dr. Ramona Hernández shared her analysis of Manuela Aybar, author, editor, and poet, credited with founding the first privately-owned printing press in the country during the 19th century. 
Sarah Aponte shared the many resources about Dominican women in history that she has put together with her team at the CUNY DSI Library and Archives. She highlighted the launching of the open-source database “First Blacks in the Americas,” which has a section dedicated to the enslaved in Hispaniola during the first years of Spanish and French colonization, and that has been a useful tool to uncover unknown facts about revolutionary women. 
Lastly, Dr. Cocco De Filippis spoke about Rosa Duarte, one of the fascinating contributors to the cause of Dominican independence and sister to Juan Pablo Duarte, the Father of the Nation. Little is known about Rosa Duarte and how central she was to the formation of the national identity. She actively participated in events by secret societies, fabricated bullets on the field, and, “later on, in exile [in Venezuela], preserved her brother’s papers, which included significant information about his leadership,” said Cocco De Filippis, an assertion to which she added, “Rosa Duarte must be remembered accordingly as the Mother of the Dominican Republic.” 
Two representatives from the Student Government Association (SGA) led a book raffle close to the end of the evening. All the books in the giveaway were authored by  President Cocco De Filippis and Vicioso, who shared closing remarks summarizing the contributions of each presenter. The gathering came to a moving end when Díaz and Guzmán retook the stage to perform the internationally-renowned Latin American song, “Gracias a la vida,” which celebrates the fruits of a life well-lived.
The presenters shared other open-source tools that could be useful for researchers in training or any interested party: “Documents of Dissidence: Selected Writings by Dominican Women,” edited by Dr. Daisy Cocco De Filippis; and Obras, all of Chiqui Vicioso’s publications available on her website for free.