On Nov. 8, 2023, the Homer Babbidge Library hosted a UCHI Fellows Talk featuring Ana María Díaz-Marcos, a Professor of Spanish Literature at the University of Connecticut. Díaz-Marcos dissected the intriguing question, “Why do so many women vanish from history after leading exceptional lives?” Also present at the Fellows Talk was Oscar Guerra, an Emmy award-winning director, researcher and educator. Guerra holds the position of Associate Professor of Film and Video at UConn while also serving as a producer at PBS.
The central theme of the conversation revolved around Ernestina G. Fleischman, an example of a woman seemingly erased from historical records. The talk delved into archival research surrounding the recovery of her legacy and writings. They also examined her biography and pivotal moments from her life, including significant tragic moments in the Spanish Civil War, her activism in the civil rights sphere of New York and much more.
Ernestina’s life forms a captivating tapestry woven with the threads of political activism, global acclaim and intellectual brilliance. As a writer, librarian, Spanish teacher and prominent advocate for anti-fascism, she became the voice for New York’s Spanish-speaking community, enchanting audiences through her nightly radio program, “Voice of Fighting Spain,” in the 1940s. She also wrote for three prominent Spanish newspapers in New York and gave multiple public speeches. Ernestina consistently directed her efforts toward advocating for human rights, antifascism, feminism, anti-imperialism and peace.
However, the puzzling erasure of this influential figure remains an enigma. Unraveling her story goes beyond the exploration of an extraordinary woman’s life; it forces us to confront the broader challenges of preserving the legacies of those who passionately fought against oppression. Ernestina’s tale stands in silent contradiction to history’s oversight, prompting us to ask: How can we ensure that the voices of such remarkable women resound through time, avoiding the shadows of obscurity?