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If you're a woman in the United States, you can thank Latinas for your right to vote.

Education By Olivia Cristina Delgado
If you're a woman in the United States, you can thank Latinas for your right to vote.

If you're a woman in the United States, you can thank Latinas for your right to v0te.

Latinas in New Mexico were the first women in state government. They advocated for bilingual education, Spanish-speaking communities, and the preservation of the Spanish language.

And, they made the ratification of the 19th amendment possible.

.....

Unlike Texas, where voter suppression is strong and "hispanics" continue to be disenfranchised, New Mexico has a long history of Latinos holding political power and office.

And New Mexico's Latinas were ahead of the curve, with State Librarian Dolores "Lola" Armijo being not just the first Latina, but the first woman ever appointed to state government.

In 1912, New Mexico's white governor tried to replace her, arguing that women were "not qualified" to hold office. Dolores sued him in court - and won, setting a precedent that gave women the right to hold appointed office in New Mexico.

But, women still didn’t have the right to v0te. So, las mujeres de Nuevo Mexico geared up to fight.

They took to the streets, on foot and in cars draped with signs and decorations. Many of the women who led the movement were the wives, sisters, and daughters of prominent Latinos, but others, like Dolores and Adelina "Nina" Otero, the state's first female Superintendent of Schools, were prominent in their own right.

New Mexico's Latina suffragettes worked with the National Women's Party to secure women the right to v0te - but they insisted that the campaign include materials in Spanish and reach out to Spanish-speaking women and communities.

One of the movement's leaders, Aurora Lucero, was a writer and activist who advocated for bilingual education and the preservation of "Hispanic" culture, as it was called.

Like Aurora, "Nuevomexicana" suffragettes were proud advocates for their language and culture. They advocated for the value of the Spanish language in the face of "Anglos" who wanted to outlaw it because they considered it "un-American."

And the New Mexican suffragettes recognized that without the support of the Spanish-speaking community, suffrage would not be successful in their state.

Superintendent Adelina became the chair for New Mexico's branch of the National Women's Party, as well as the chair of the GOP state women's committee.

Adelina was descended from Latino leaders; her father had been an influential figure in the community before he was murdered by Anglos, and her uncle was a major New Mexican politician.

With her passion, connections, and the support of New Mexico's Spanish-speaking women and community to back her up, Adelina lobbied hard for v0tes to ratify the 19th ammendment.

When legislators wavered at the last minute, Adelina confronted them and "disciplined" their v0tes, using all the tactics at her disposal.

The support of 3/4 of the states is needed to pass an ammendment to the constitution. In 1920, that meant 36 states.

Thanks to Adelina, Aurora, Dolores and many others in the Latina-led suffrage movement, New Mexico became the 36th state to ratify the 19th amendment, giving women the right to v0te in February of 1920.

Following the ratification of the 19th ammendment, New Mexico elected Soledad Chávez Chacón, the first female Secretary of State, and the first woman to ever be elected to statewide office in the US.

And the legacy of Nuevomexicana leadership continues, with New Mexico being the first state to elect a Latina Governor, Susana Martinez, in 2011. The state's current governor is also a Latina, Michelle Lujan Grisham.

When you hit the ballot box this year, remember the proud, pioneering Latinas who made it possible.

 

By Olivia Cristina Delgado

olivia@wearelatinlive.com

TW: @LaTiaHuesitos

IG: @oliviacristinadelgado

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