As a 13-year-old girl, Sonia Pierre was arrested for organizing a five-day protest that would mark the beginning of her life’s work as a social activist for the rights of Haitians living in the Dominican Republic. Pierre's parents were Haitian sugarcane workers and she was born and grew up in the cane culture of the Dominican Republic. Their community was impoverished and basic human rights were often denied.
After devoting her adulthood to bringing dignity to the bateyes – Dominican sugarcane towns where workers live in barracks – Pierre died December 4, 2011 near the village where she was born, Villa Altagracia, Dominican Republic. She was 48 years old and leaves behind a legacy of advocacy that her family, friends and colleagues at the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice will carry ahead. PIH’s Loune Viaud and award winning novelist Edwidge Danticat have written tributes to Sonia Pierre.