A new book celebrates the ‘discipline, courage, and authenticity’ of Cuban American women

Cuban American scholar Arnhilda Badia has written a book featuring over 50 Cuban American women who have achieved great success in America. Badia herself escaped communist Cuba as a teenager and went on to become a distinguished teacher, professor, and a public servant.

Via Lima Ohio:

‘Discipline, courage and authenticity’: New book celebrates Cuban-American women

Arnhilda Badía was a teenager when she was almost arrested for handing out prayer cards in the 1960s in Cuba. Those were the days when the Castro regime attacked the Catholic Church, expelled priests and nuns, and closed schools like the French Dominicans, which she attended.

The friend who was accompanying her was caught, but Badía managed to escape full speed on a bicycle. At the age of 18, in 1964, she was leaving Cuba with a baby in her arms – heading to Mexico – after the government confiscated her father’s pharmacy and a small farm that the family had on Havana’s outskirts.

This is just one of the many stories collected in a new book, “Cuban American Women: Making History,” about 54 women who, like Badía, found success in the United States and made important contributions to the community, while still remaining faithful to their roots and sharing their values and traditions with their children.

Persistence, discipline and gratitude

Shortly after her arrival in the United States, Badía entered the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to pursue a doctorate in linguistics while raising her family.

She then pursued a distinguished career as a teacher, holding positions in Tallahassee and Florida International University, and promoted bilingualism, working closely with the Florida Commissioner of Education. She also entered politics, inspired by Jeb Bush, becoming a state representative (1984-1988).

“I was very idealistic,” said Badía. One of the most gratifying projects she worked on is the Dr. Armando Badia Senior Center in Flagami Park. “I promised the seniors a center, and I got the land, and it is an honor to have been able to do it and to have it named after my father,” she told el Nuevo Herald.

What most impressed her as she learned about the lives of the women she profiled was their persistence, Badía said. One story in particular stuck with her.

Businesswoman, publicist, and promoter of the arts Aida Levitan, who came to the United States as part of Operation Pedro Pan, worked serving lunch in the school cafeteria while in high school in Miami Beach. If she didn’t do it, she wouldn’t eat, because her family didn’t have a dollar left for lunch, Levitan told el Nuevo Herald in an interview in 2022 when she was included by Forbes magazine on its “Fifty over 50” list,” as one of the most prominent women in the finance field in the United States.

Levitan then chaired the Board of Directors of the U.S. Century Bank, of which she is still a member.

“The Cuban-American woman has been an example of what immigrants can achieve in this country,” Levitan said. “She has made an enormous sacrifice for her family and at the same time she has participated in the workforce, she has built her own businesses, and she has participated in politics.”

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You can order a copy of the book HERE.

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