Emilia Teurbe Tolón is credited with embroidering the first Cuban flag ... to free their country from Spanish rule alongside other exiles.
We often hear of heroes who led revolutions, but what about the women beside them, like Emilia Margarita Teurbe Tolón y Otero? Born in Matanzas, Cuba, in 1828, Emilia found herself in the eye of the storm when her husband, Miguel Teurbe Tolón, a passionate advocate for Cuban independence, was declared an enemy of Spain and exiled to New York City in 1849.
Forced into exile herself in 1850 due to "seditious" correspondence found at her home, Emilia joined Miguel in New York. Here, they both became part of the Cuban exile community, attending political meetings aimed at liberating Cuba from Spanish rule.
In NYC, Miguel joined the Consejo Cubano (Cuban Junta) alongside Narciso López. It was López who tasked Emilia with creating a flag for a free Cuba. Hoisted in Matanzas in 1850 during an armed expedition, although the mission failed, Emilia's flag became a symbol of hope and resistance.
By 1855, Emilia and Miguel were granted amnesty and returned to Cuba. The exile years had taken a toll; Emilia divorced Miguel and moved away from her family who disapproved of her divorce.
Emilia's years in exile were not just a phase but a crucible that shaped her belief in social justice and her legacy for the children of Cuba, whom she remembered in her will.