On Tuesday, November 10. City Councilor Lydia Edwards and the Edwards Empowerment Fund hosted a virtual East Boston Trivia and Comedy Night to honor this year’s recipients of the Maverick Street Mothers Scholarship.
At the event Diana Cifuentes, Alejandra De La Cruz, Hanane Ihizan, Monica Sierra Ochoa and Maritza Marinique were all named recipients of the 2020 Maverick Mothers Scholarship.
“I started the Edwards Empowerment Fund because it’s vital we provide opportunities for residents to achieve their fullest potential,” said Councilor Edwards. “The Maverick Street Mothers Scholarship pays tribute to the men and women who came before us and fought for our community. It honors parents who are doing the work today and allows us to invest in their leadership so that our community is stronger. I’m so proud of the five East Boston mothers who received a scholarship to continue college, go to trade school, or improve their English. I want to thank them for their commitment to their families and East Boston despite everything they juggle in their lives.”
Edwards also thanked all of the sponsors and everyone who joined the Virtual Comedy and Trivia Night.
“It was amazing to have our community show up and support the recipients with a beautiful, diverse crowd that represented all of East Boston,” she said. “We look forward to next year.”
The Maverick Street Mothers organized community protests in the late 1960s against Logan Airport expansion construction. The protest was widely publicized as women, mostly mothers, formed a blockade using baby carriages to stop construction and delivery trucks on Maverick Street.
In honor of this movement, the Edwards Empowerment Fund, a registered 501(c)3 non-profit, was established by the District 1 Councilor to uplift, amplify, and empower residents by providing equitable access to educational and skill-building opportunities. The annual scholarship will be awarded to parents wanting to further their education or are attending Boston-area colleges. Cifuentes is an active member of the East Boston Community born in Medellin Colombia.
She’s a mom to two children, Stephen and Valery. In her spare time, Cifuentes is busy fighting for safe and secure working conditions at MassCosh, for tenants at City Life/ Viva Urbana and Cosecha, and environmental justice at GreenRoots. Cifuentes said she hopes to utilize the scholarship to attend English classes and propel her professional life forward.
De La Cruz, born in Lima, Peru, is a local mom to three-year-old Nathaniela and a resident of Maverick Square. In addition to attending Bunker Hill Community College for Early
Childhood education, she is a lead hotline advocate and serves on the Executive Committee for City Life / Viva Urbana. She is also a volunteer with the East Boston Soup Kitchen and mutual aid during the pandemic. She said she will use the scholarship to pay the tuition at Bunker Hill and become a teacher.
Ihizan is an Eagle Hill resident originally born in Casablanca, Morocco, and mom to her three children – Sohaib, Rayane, and Elaaf. Ihizan is currently pursuing her IT degree at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. She has been involved in the East Boston community for six years organizing multicultural days, helping with the East Boston Soup Kitchen, peace walks, Harborkeepers, and translating documents for Maverick Landing services. Ihizan mentioned in her application she worked extremely hard to pay for and receive her GED from Bunker Hill Community College while being a full time mom and working. This scholarship will help her fulfill her dream to receive a Bachelor’s Degree.
Ochoa is a resident of Eagle Hill and mom to Juan Manuel and Daniel. She is heavily invested in the East Boston community and wishes to give back with this scholarship. She is currently a preparer of documents and will use this scholarship to attend English classes. It is her goal to build on the work she’s already done in the community and get involved in more organizations once she learns and practices more English.
Finally, Marinique is a Maverick Central resident in East Boston, and mom to Valentina. Her work is rooted in child and day care, but her passion is to serve the community. She intends to
attend English classes to better her skills and use them to be engaged more in East Boston area organizations.
Last year the Edwards Empowerment Fund dispersed over $10,000 worth of scholarship money to five deserving parents in East Boston at a gala that was attended by 100 community members at Spinelli’s Banquet Hall.
Recipients of the inaugural Maverick Street Mothers Scholarship last year were Mary Luz Barrera, Dominique DiDomenicis, Lisa Melara, and Noemy Rodriguez.
The Maverick Street Mothers protest was in response to the construction trucks bringing fill for a Logan expansion project. The trucks drove very fast down the densely populated Maverick Street, creating an unsafe situation for children, the elderly and the mothers that took their children out for walks or to run errands.
On September 28, 1968, led by local legend the late Anna DeFronzo, a group of mothers in what was to become a historic protest against the Port Authority and airport expansion.
The group became known as the ‘Maverick Street Mothers’ and their protest became the true beginning of environmental justice in Eastie and marked the opening salvo and first victory in the neighborhood’s famed transportation justice struggles.
After a series of clandestine community meetings it was decided that only women and children would participate in the demonstration because many felt if men were involved it might lead to fights and violence. The group notified the media, put out a simple press release and the next day, September 28, the demonstration began.
As the dump trucks arrived the mothers, pushing their children in baby carriages, blocked the street.
The State Police arrived to restore order to the street and when the Maverick Mothers refused to back down. The State Police began to drag and push the mothers to the sidewalk so the trucks could continue. However, former Mayor Kevin White, who was being kept abreast of the situation, sent in the Boston Police to counter the State Police’s use of force.
The Boston Police made the trucks stop and ordered the protest to continue.
That night the event was all over the evening news.
When Massport caught wind that the protests would not end, but continued the next day, Eastie’s elected officials pointed out that there were several other viable truck routes on Massport property that could be used.
After negotiations, Massport agreed to use the alternative truck routes and the Maverick Mothers scored a major victory during the era of Logan expansion.