The city of Albuquerque’s 100th Anniversary of Women’s Suffrage special on Wednesday was both a celebration of the 19th amendment and a reminder of the darker moments behind voting rights. A bevy of women speakers, from political leaders like Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to young women pledging to vote for the first time this year, talked about the importance of voting and frequently referred to it as a way to make their voices heard. Many also spoke about the struggle for women of color to gain the right to vote even after the passage of the 19th amendment. Social justice advocate Pamelya Herndon, executive director and founder of KWH Social Justice Law Center and Change, brought up the education requirements that some Black voters faced for a century in some states after the Civil War ended as just one impediment. Herndon said the historical social justice leader and “leading male feminist of his time,” W.E.B. Du Bois said that “in order for the Black race to be lifted, every single Black person must have the right to vote.”
The women’s suffrage movement distanced itself from the concept of Black women having the right to vote in the early years of the effort because the suffragettes didn’t want to alienate the white Southern women involved in the cause, according to historians.
During a New York Times’ “Women in the Public Spotlight” discussion, U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland said Congress needs more women. The New York Times invited the Albuquerque Democrat to participate in an online event called “Women in the Public Spotlight” on Tuesday as part of the Times’ recognition of 2020 as the centennial of when women’s suffrage went into effect. Congress passed the 19th Amendment, which gave white women the right to vote, in 1919. Haaland answered questions, along with Reshma Saujani, founder and chief executive of an organization called Girls Who Code and author of “Brave, Not Perfect.” Monica Drake, assistant managing editor of The New York Times hosted. Haaland said she ran because she wanted more Native American women in Congress and she said that Congress should be 50 percent women.
Standing in the center of the Capitol Rotunda, outfitted in a sash reading “Votes for women,” 14-year-old Fionnuala Moore lifted her voice. “Don’t you realize all that we will do,” she sang with a group of peers from Santa Fe Prep, their words echoing Thursday afternoon through the Roundhouse. During a celebration of New Mexico’s vote to ratify the 19th Amendment 100 years ago this month, Moore performed two of the 27 songs from her self-written musical The Right to Vote. The play, which honors women suffragists from the 1900s, is meant to outline how far the U.S. has come in terms of equality, while also serving as a reminder. “We still have,” the high school freshman said, “a long way to go.”
Moore said she hopes her musical will inspire women in Santa Fe and beyond to continue lifting their voices and fighting for change.
ByRey Garduño, President of the ABQ City Council |
Rey Garduño represents Albuquerque city council District 6. This opinion piece is also signed by Democratic State Representatives Georgene Louis and Patricia Roybal-Caballero. As we celebrate Women’s Equality Day across the country today, a day commemorating the 1920 passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, granting women the right to vote, let us also pause and consider the significant work ahead. Particularly in our beloved state of New Mexico, women and families continue to shoulder more than their fair share of the burden of our state’s struggles with poverty and child well-being. Women, particularly women of color, are most negatively impacted by almost every existing economic policy.