February marks the beginning of Black History Month and the end to Dominican Heritage Month. As we celebrate these events and movements, we remember the important individuals and collectives who have paved the way for our community. As we commemorate, we also recognize the long road we have ahead of us. Let us use this month to reflect on the past, assess the present, and plan for our future. Unidos, anything is possible.
Black History Month
Black history is American history, and we celebrate Black History Month to celebrate black achievements throughout our nation’s history. Each year, a theme for Black History Month is chosen by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), the original founders of Black History Month. 2023’s theme is “Black Resistance,” to recognize how Black Americans have resisted historic and ongoing oppression in all forms. This theme will explore how “African Americans have resisted historic and ongoing oppression, in all forms, especially the racial terrorism of lynching, racial pogroms and police killings,” since the nation’s earliest days.
ASALH was established on September 9, 1915, by Dr. Carter G. Woodson. Thousands of African Americans traveled to Washington, D.C. to participate in a national celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of emancipation and viewed exhibits highlighting the progress that had been made since the destruction of slavery. This event led to “Negro History Week” and became dedicated as a national observance in 1976.
Click here to read more about 2023’s Black History Month’s theme.
Dominican Heritage Month
The Dominican Heritage Month is celebrated every year from January 21st, with the Feast of Nuestra Señora de Altagracia, through February 27th which marks the anniversary of Dominican Republic Independence. As the largest immigrant group of New York City, it is easy to recognize the contributions that Dominican culture has brought to our city, whether it be through music, fashion, food, or literature.
New York City itself, the city of immigrants, has been Dominican from the very beginning. The first immigrant to what has become New York City was Juan Rodriguez from Santo Domingo which is now the Dominican Republic. In October of 2012, the New York City Council enacted legislation to name Broadway from 159th Street to 218th Street in Manhattan after Juan Rodriguez.
Click here to learn more about the history of Dominican Heritage Month. Click here to purchase official NMIC merchandise featuring the Juan Rodriguez Way Street sign. Proceeds directly support our mission and everything you value at NMIC.
Thank You, Miranda Family Fund!
We would like to give a special shout out to Miranda Family Fund for supporting our work in the community. The Miranda family champions community activism through their giving, fundraising, and advocacy efforts by supporting New York based institutions. Miranda Family Fund’s contributions will be used to amplify our mission—to serve as a catalyst for positive change in the lives of the people in our community on their paths to secure and prosperous futures. On behalf of the 14,000 individuals, we serve annually, and the 32,000 we impact through our services, thank you.
Click here to join the Miranda Family Fund by serving as a catalyst for positive change through donating today.
Join us in congratulating community member Altagracia for passing her naturalization exam!
“Gracias por toda su ayuda; por haberme, impulsado. Todo se puede con dedicacion, gracias,” Altagracia, Community Member.
NMIC’s Citizenship Preparation services provide community members like Altagracia with resources and advocacy to work toward obtaining American Citizenship. Our citizenship students practice citizenship interviews, learn about American Civics to prepare for the written citizenship test, and receive case management and counseling support. Over 300 individuals become citizens through NMIC’s supportive services annually.
Help students like Altagracia make their dreams come true by donating today.
Arte Y Bienestar
Earlier this month, NMIC’s wellness team held “Arte Y Bienestar,” an afternoon dedicated to creating art in a relaxing and fun environment. Studies have shown that expression through art can help people with depression, anxiety, and stress. Creating art can also help to boost confidence and make us feel more engaged and resilient. The event was a major success, and community members left our offices with beautiful masterpieces.
“Self-care is an important part of mental health and well-being, and art can be a wonderful self-care activity. Creating art allows us to express our emotions visually, without having to use words. When we create art, we enter a state of flow, where we become so immersed in a task that we lose track of time, and our thoughts float freely without worry. By doing this type of mechanical activity, our conscious mind opens to new thoughts and perspectives,” Santiago Márquez Ramos, Co-Coordinator of Wellness Services.
Click here to learn more about NMIC’s health services.
Cafecito con Maria
During the of February, we would like to highlight our Executive Director, Maria Lizardo, LMSW’s advocacy work for the communities we serve. At the beginning of the month, Maria attended Dominicans on the Hill, held annually during Dominican Heritage month created by Rep. Espaillat (NY-13) to recognize the growing civic engagement of the Dominican American community and throughout the diaspora. Since its inception, Dominicans on the Hill has become a signature event held at the United States Capitol that is attended by hundreds of community leaders, professionals, students, and elected officials of Dominican descent and groups from around the nation.
Later, Maria joined The New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC)’s Legislative Breakfast. Among the attendees included immigrants’ rights activists from across the five boroughs who joined forces to discuss the needs of New York City’s immigrant communities, with the aim to envision a New York where all are welcome, treated fairly, and given the chance to pursue their dreams.
Most recently, Maria joined NYSABPRHAL for their 52nd Annual Conference in Albany. The goal of the conference was to engage New State Residents from a minority descent into a dialogue about state-wide issues and policies. Throughout the weekend, NYSABPRHAL honored those who have excelled in the principles of leadership in their communities. Among the honorees was Maria, who represented NMIC and those we serve. On the Saturday of the conference weekend, Maria joined Latino Social Work Coalition & Scholarship Fund’s to advocate for the removal of non-independent social work practice exams and more fair and equitable competency measures for prospective social workers. Together, we can eliminate discriminatory practices for prospective social workers.
NMIC in the News
- NYC.gov recently wrote an article about the 2023 tax season. New York City kicked off tax season this year with free tax preparation services now tailored for self-employed New Yorkers. NMIC Executive Director, Maria Lizardo, LMSW stated, “NMIC is excited to partner with DCWP to provide access to free, effective tax preparation services through the NYC Free Tax Prep program,” said Maria Lizardo, executive director, NMIC. “These services are invaluable to the economic empowerment of our community members as we continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.” Click here to read more.
- Spectrum Noticias wrote an article about the importance of Promise NYC. Promise NYC is a NYC childcare assistance program for undocumented children and their families. The city partnered with community organizations like NMIC to connect families with these new services. Wilbert Negron, NMIC childcare manager, stated, “It’s for families that have children who are undocumented. If families don’t have any kind of benefits from other agencies, Promise NYC makes sure to give them childcare.” Click here to read more.
- Black History Month
- Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month
- Dominican Heritage Month
- February 12, Lincoln’s Birthday
- February 14, Valentine’s Day
- February 20, Presidents’ Day