Las 3 Hermanas: Puerto Rican Mother Power Keeps a Legacy Alive


Las 3 Hermanas: Puerto Rican Mother Power Keeps a Legacy Alive

Odu Ifa Ogunda Leni says “The elders thought over the matter and realized that it was no longer favorable. They used their mustaches to cover their faces and spread their beards firmly over their chests. These were the declarations of Ifa to “Isese” (Tradition)….to every head of the Oro Society in Ile-Ife.  It is “Isese” one ought to appease before appeasing any Deity / Religion / Belief System.”

Ah…Ah! What is one’s “Isese”? The ALMIGHTY, one’s head, one’s Mother, one’s Father, one’s reproductive organ, one’s Maternal Lineage/one’s Paternal family.

This author appeases his “Isese.”   Ancient African wisdom – expressed through Ifa – respects the exalted position of Mother / Maternal lineage / Mother Earth.

Las 3 Hermanas (The 3 Sisters) are my “Isese.” They represent a tradition of superior Puerto Rican Mother Power that keeps a legacy alive.

The catalyst to craft this article is twofold!

First, to edify my “Isese”: my Mother Elba Cabrera and my late Aunts / her elder sisters – Lillian López and Dr. Evelina López Antonetty.  Human society on Mother Earth needs to know about Las 3 Hermanas.

Second, this article is an antidote to a post uploaded on this venue on June 13, 2017, entitled “The Parade: Oscar López Rivera Controversy Shows How Powerless Puerto Ricans Remain.”   The medicine here is to highlight and neutralize this erroneous  “powerless” narrative with its inverse – Las 3 Hermanas – are exemplary examples of competency and strength!

Who are Las 3 Hermanas? They settled in “El Barrio” (The Neighborhood) / Spanish Harlem directly from Puerto Rico after the Depression.  Afterwards, onto the Bronx  —  being the “first” family of color in a then Jewish area.  Subsequently,  They blossomed into education activists for the community and the arts. All three sisters built metaphorical bridges that still stand.
My mother, – Elba Cabrera,  now a respected elder is the youngest of the three sisters.  She has proven and established herself as an ambassador and advocate for the arts. She taught me how to read in English at 3 years old and guided me to value education.

My Aunt — late Lillian López, the middle sister, was among the first Puerto Rican librarians in the New York Public Library system (having been mentored by “the first” –  loyal family friend – the late Pura Belpre. Aunt Lily was the first Puerto Rican Administrator who created landmark programs that are still referred to today with respect.   Aunt Lily was essential in my formation as she exposed me to the world in microcosm (NYC) at a young age with a wide range of diverse experiences from Urban Rail Engineering, appreciation of cultural diversity, higher education and to the love of our maternal “Isese” –  Borinquen / Puerto Rico.

My late Aunt — “Titi” — Dra. Evelina López Antonetty, the oldest sister, and a highly charismatic leader were an activist and a champion for social causes. An advocate for education, she forged sustainable conduits with the African-American community in the South Bronx along with all other NYC communities who strived  — against the odds  — for upgrading education for the succeeding generations. “Titi” proudly articulated our ancestral connection to Africa and to the Indigenous Americas well before it was an acceptable discussion.

Las 3 Hermanas is proudly part of the “Hispanic” / “LatinX” diaspora. Las 3 Hermanas are proudly part of the “African” diaspora.

Las 3 Hermanas as symbolic heroines of Puerto Rican Mother Power is a living pro-biotic antidote to myopic,  judgemental and condescending statements of powerlessness of Puerto Ricans!  Las 3 Hermanas is the inverse!

Finally,  encouraged here is further study of  Las 3 Hermanas  AND Puerto Rico to “grok” (1)  what the truth is about a nation and people who survive and thrive —  despite the myriad of odds and –isms throughout several centuries of the past and current history.

A special event will facilitate this process. An exhibition that illustrates how “Las 3 Hermanas” accomplished so much.

“Hostos50: Las 3 Hermanas: Art, Education & Activism.”

Start Date: September 14, 2017
Start Time: 5:30 PM
Location: Hostos Community College
475 Grand Concourse
Bronx, NY 10451

To conclude, this process of recognition will continue!  Las 3 Hermanas personify a unique brand of Puerto Rican Mother Power –  a power of compassion, competence and strength!


1 – to “grok” – To understand profoundly through intuition or empathy. (coined by late science fiction author Robert Heinlien)


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