Car Parade Aug. 30 to celebrate Women’s Suffrage Ammendment

Women's Rights
SONYA BERG AND GOV. MICHELLE LUJAN GRISHAM

On Aug. 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution (Women’s Suffrage Amendment) was finally ratified. After nearly 100 years, activists and reformers won the right for all American women to vote. It was no easy journey. It started with women stepping out in support of various reform groups, like temperance groups, religious movements, moral-reform societies, and anti-slavery organizations. The idea that a woman’s place was at the cook stove and raising kids was being redefined, shaping anew what it meant to be a woman and a citizen of the United States. In the first election following ratification of the 19th Amendment on Nov. 2, 1920, more than eight million women across the United States voted for the first time.

A Car Parade in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Woman’s Suffrage Amendment will take place on Sunday, Aug. 30 at 2 p.m. Organizer Sonya Berg has worked with city officials and the police department to make it happen. But that’s just part of the story.

She started 18 months ago working with Meredith Machen of the League of Women Voters New Mexico to identify New Mexico suffragists and plan public events to celebrate the Centennial Anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, making it legal for women to cast a vote, as well as doing research for national databases to recognize Suffragists in New Mexico.

She was inspired  to put together the Car Parade on Aug. 30 because other planned events fell through as a consequence of COVID-19.

“I looked for other ways to celebrate this historic year. Santa Fe planned a car parade along the same path the Suffragists took in 1916 to Senator Catron’s residence to deliver speeches and try to convince him to support the 19th Amendment. I decided Las Vegas should also have a parade. Three people in Las Vegas were influential in getting the Suffrage Act passed,” Berg said.

Senator Andrieus Aristieus Jones, elected to the US Senate in 1915, was appointed chair of the Senate Select Committee on Woman Suffrage. “Sen. Jones successfully shephered the Act through both chambers and it passed June 4, 1919,” Berg said.

“Gov. Octaviono Larrazolo the fourth governor of New Mexico, ran on a platform to support Women’s Suffrage. When the state legislature convened, legislators decided they didn’t really want to vote for that. The session ended. Gov. Larrazolo called a special session and he and Nina Otero-Warren lobbied the legislators until they agreed. Because of this, Larrazolo was a one-term governor,” Berg said.

The third influitial advocate for the Suffrage movement was Aurora Lucero, who was born in Las Vegas, the daughter of Antonio Lucero, the first New Mexico Secretary of State. Lucero was well-educated and a talented bilingual speaker. “When the national organizations first sent representatives to New Mexico, they understood the importance of including influential Hispanic women from prominent political families in their effort,” Berg said.

Events recognizing the 100th Anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment had been planned months in advance. Among the aborted plans were:

  • talks by Fort Union National Park Service at the Citizens Committee for Historic Preservation office;
    focus on the Suffarage moment during Heritage Week;
  • Sara Jo Matthews was developing a “Suffrage cocktail” and a voter registration drive was planned at Borracho’s;
  • AAUW-NM annual convention was scheduled to be held in April with a focus on the Suffrage Movement and portrayals of influential Suffragists;
  • a celebration of the 100th Anniversary was planned near Aug. 26, the official date the ammendment became part of the constitution, now known as Women’s Equality Day;
  • a poster contest was planned to get school children involved in the occasion;
  • a period play about the Suffrage movement was under discussion.

When that all fell through, attention was directed toward doing what could be done now, according to Berg.

“We’re getting proclamations from the city council and the county commission, we’re putting a store front display at CCHP and dressing a mannequin at Blowin’ in the Wind in Suffrage colors – white for purity, purple for loyalty, and yellow for hope – and featuring a parasol with sunflowers, and a sash stating ‘Votes for Women,’ and other storefront displays,” Berg said.

Berg believes this focus on recognizing the 100th Anniversty of the 19th Ammenment is timely and important.

“I think many do not realize the commitment and courage of the activists. One often hears the statement, ‘Women were GIVEN the vote.’ More correctly, we FOUGHT for and TOOK the right to vote! The 72-year-long struggle to Win the Vote is generally considered to have started in July 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York. The meeting was organized by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott and three other women. The Declaration of Sentiments was written by Stanton and modeled after the U.S. Declaration of Independence and borrowed language from the antislavery movement, demanding that women be given full rights of citizenship. Sixty-eight women and 32 men signed the document. Charlotte Woodward Pierce was the lone surviving woman to see the 19th Amendment signed into law,” Berg said.

The route for the Car Parade on Aug. 30 has been determined. To keep it to an orderly procession, Berg suggests carpooling. She is also asking participants to wear suffrage colors and to decorate their vehicles accordingly.

“Yellow roses and sunflowers were also symbols of the movement,” she said. “I will have some sashes and hats but I encourage participants to make their own.”

Sashes should say “Votes for Women” or “We Won the Vote.”  Participants can find signage slogans on the internet.  Berg will also have some balloons for cars and other materials for decorating. Additional supplies will be welcome.

The Route: Parade participants will congregate near Love’s on North Grand, beginning at 1 p.m. From North Grand, the parade will proceed down Grand, south to New Mexico Avenue where the parade will turn right and drive north to Mills Avenue and proceed east on Mills to 6th Street. Turn on to 6th Street and drive south to Douglas. Make a right and drive west to 12th Street, turn right and drive to National/Bridge Street. Left on Bridge Street to the Plaza. Those who wish to park and stroll around the Plaza and Bridge Street, are asked to wear masks and socially distance.

Celebrating women's right to vote
Las Vegas women celebrate ratification of the 19th Amendment 100 years ago. In the first election following its passage, more than eight million women voted.

Berg said she has a beautiful sunflower umbrella/parasol she plans to carry and suggests parade participants create umbrellas of their own, using any old umbrella as a base.

“Tape the slogan ‘We Won the Vote’ on it and get colorfully creative with embellishments,” Berg said.

Berg would like to know in advance if you plan to participate in the Car Parade. Please call her at 505 425-6680 or 505 718-0232.

“If you prefer not to be out with other people, please let others in your neighborhood know the route so you and they may watch the parade safely,” Berg said. “Watchers can also hold up signs to help us celebrate.”


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